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THE ART OF 
STORY WRITING 



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SULLY AND KLEINTEICH 

New York 
»m i n m m h i i n m m i n w n mi l 



THE ART OF 

STORY WRITING 

Facts and Information About Liter- 
ary Work of Practical Value to Both 
Amateur and Professional Writers 

BY 
NATHANIEL C. FOWLER, Jr. 

Author of ''Starting in Life,' 1 * 'How to Obtain Citizenship," 
"The Art of Letter Writing," "How to Save Money,*' etc. 




NEW YORK 

SULLY AND KLEINTEICH 

1913 






Copyright, 1913, by 
SULLY AND KLEINTEICH 



^4W rights reserved 



©CI.A350510 



A WORD AT THE START 

The writing of stories of every class and of any 
length, and of every kind of literature, whether or 
not published in book form, is a distinct art or pro- 
fession, may be considered as a trade, and cannot be 
accurately weighed or measured unless subject to 
both ethical and commercial consideration. 

To refuse to discuss the making of literature 
commercially, or from a business point of view, 
would be unfair and unprofitable. 

It is obvious that the majority of writers con- 
sider their pens as remunerative tools, and that 
they produce literature, or what resembles it, not 
wholly for fame and for the good that they may 
do, but because of the money received, or expected, 
from their work. 

The making and marketing of literature, then, 
are not removed wholly from the rules or laws 
which govern the manufacture of a commodity. 
If literature was not a commodity, in some sense, 



A WORD AT THE START 

at least, it would not have a market and be paid 
for. Any analysis of it, therefore, must take into 
account its commercial or trade value. 

In this country, many thousands of men and 
women depend entirely upon their pens for a live- 
lihood, and ten times as many thousand write 
wholly for fame or for the good they can do, with 
or without expectation of receiving a financial re- 
turn. 

Several books have been written claiming to con- 
tain rules, regulations, or instructions for the writ- 
ing of every class of literature. While none of 
these books are valueless, I think that most of them 
are altogether too technical, and that some of them 
pretend to do the impossible. 

One may receive specific instructions in stenog- 
raphy, typewriting, book-keeping, and other con- 
crete work, depending upon experience for pro- 
ficiency ; but it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell 
any one how to write so that he may become pro- 
ficient in this art largely from the instructions 
given. 

I do not believe that it is possible for any one, 
not even an experienced writer, to impart an actual 



A WORD AT THE START 

working knowledge of composition, which will be 
of more than preliminary benefit to the reader. 

Instead of loading this book with instructions, 
and attempting to tell the would-be writer what 
to do and what not to do, or to build a frame which 
he may use as a model, I have devoted many of my 
pages to the giving of information which I hope 
will not fail to assist the reader. 

I am entirely unbiased, and have no ax to grind 
at the reader's expense. I am telling him the 
truth as I see it, and am using the eyes of others 
as well as my own. 

Personal opinion, even if given by an expert, 
has little value, unless it is based upon the com- 
posite. 

What I have said, then, is of the little I know, 
combined with the much which I think I know 
about what others know. 

I have attempted neither to skim the surface, 
nor to bore into the depths. Rather, I have 
chosen to present typographical pictures of liter- 
ary fact, starting at the beginning and ending at 
the result. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

A Word at the Start 

CHAPTER I 
Entering a Literary Career I 

CHAPTER II 
The Writing of Novels 6 

CHAPTER III 
The Writing of a Short Story . . . . .20 

CHAPTER IV 
The Story of Adventure 28 

CHAPTER V 
The Mystery Story 31 

CHAPTER VI 
The Detective Story ....... 83 

CHAPTER VII 
Stories for Children 35 

CHAPTER VIII 
Humorous Writing ........ 39 

CHAPTER IX 
Special Stories or Articles 45 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER X page 

The Writing of Poetry 47 

CHAPTER XI 
Play Writing 58 

CHAPTER XII 
Motion-Picture Plays 84 

CHAPTER XIII 
The Name of a Book or Story . . . . .87 

CHAPTER XIV 
Literary Schools 91 

CHAPTER XV 
Literary Agencies or Bureaus ..... 94 

CHAPTER XVI 
The Preparation of a Manuscript ... 98 

CHAPTER XVII 
Manuscript Paper 108 

CHAPTER XVIII 
Copying Manuscripts 110 

CHAPTER XIX 
The Number of Words in a Manuscript . .113 

CHAPTER XX 
Revising Manuscripts 115 

CHAPTER XXI 
How to Send a Manuscript ..... 120 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XXII page 

Rejected Manuscripts 126 

CHAPTER XXIII 
The Size op a Book 129 

CHAPTER XXIV 
The Number of Words in a Book . . . .138 

CHAPTER XXV 
How a Manuscript is Received and Handled 
by a Book Publisher 136 

CHAPTER XXVI 
Terms for the Publication of Books . . . 143 

CHAPTER XXVII 
Contracts with Book Publishers .... 149 

CHAPTER XXVIII 
Disreputable Publishers 163 

CHAPTER XXIX 
Copyrighting 172 

CHAPTER XXX 
Quoting from Copyrighted Matter . . .177 

CHAPTER XXXI 
The Danger of Libel 179 

CHAPTER XXXII 
The Price of a Book 182 

CHAPTER XXXIII 
Illustrations 185 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XXXIV page 

The Reading of Proofs 193 

CHAPTER XXXV 
Books Published at the Author's Expense 204 

CHAPTER XXXVI 
Complimentary Copies of Books . 206 

CHAPTER XXXVII 
Books in Libraries 208 

CHAPTER XXXVIII 

The Advance Publication, or Republication, 
of Books, Stories, and Articles . . . .210 

CHAPTER XXXIX 
The Linotype, Monotype, and Typesetting 
Machines 213 

CHAPTER XL 
Electrotyping and Stereotyping .... 215 

CHAPTER XLI 
The Value of Experience and Timeliness . 217 

CHAPTER XLII 
Syndicate Writers ..i . 225 

CHAPTER XLIII 
Paper-Covered Books 



CHAPTER XLIV 
The Selling Value of Reputation . . . 236 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XLV page 

The Income of Book Writers 240 

CHAPTER XLVI 
The Incomes of Magazine and Newspaper 
Writers 244 

CHAPTER XLVII 
The Remuneration Received by the Favored 
Few 247 

CHAPTER XLVIII 
Records of Manuscripts ,251 



THE 
ART OF STORY WRITING 

CHAPTER I 

Entering a Literary Career 

WOULD I advise one to take up literature, 
or any other class of writing, save journal- 
istic work, as a means for a livelihood, and to de- 
vote his energies exclusively to the production of 
books and other literary matter? 

It is easier to ask the question than it is to an- 
swer it. It is true that many men and women, 
even thousands of them, earn their living with 
their pens, and some of them have obtained fame. 

Certainly no work is more fascinating or more 
deeply appeals to the inner emotions and senti- 
ments than literature does. 

Literature may be considered the world's best 



2 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

vehicle of progress. Without it, civilization 
would never have a chance to expand. 

Nations, as well as people, are known by their 
literature. 

The spoken word may lose itself in the atmos- 
phere, but the printed word may live forever. 

There are few callings which have a right to 
occupy, with the litterateur, the front of the 
stage of life. 

Good literature fairly breeds self-satisfaction 
of a kind which the literary man has a right to 
be proud of. 

Not only is the successful writer satisfied with 
himself, but he has the even greater satisfaction 
of knowing that he is one of the pillars of civili- 
zation, one of the main props of the house of 
immortality. 

Nevertheless, from the heights, we must drop 
to the earth itself, and we must consider litera- 
ture, for the time being, as a commodity, that we 
may view it commercially as well as ethically. 

If one is not self-supporting, I would advise 
him not to launch his craft upon the sea of litera- 
ture, unless he has an anchor ready to be cast 



ENTERING A LITERARY CAREER 3 

to windward, and there is attached to it a cable 
strong enough to hold. 

Many of the most successful writers occupy 
salaried or remunerative positions, and are not 
obliged to butter their bread with their pens. 
They take up writing, not always as a side issue, 
but as an extra duty. They provide for them- 
selves financially in some other way, and do not 
let go their grasp on their regular profession 
or trade, until they are well established as writers. 

Upon general principles, I would not advise 
any would-be author to enter the field of litera- 
ture, unaccompanied by a flour barrel and a lunch 
basket, because it may be some time before even 
his best work will be sufficient to pay for food and 
clothing. 

Every man or woman, rich or poor, should be 
sufficiently familiar with some trade, business, or 
profession to be able to earn his living, that he 
may have proper food and clothing, and may not 
become a burden upon his friends or his com- 
munity. Then, and only then, do I think it is 
safe for him to consider the making of literature 
the means of livelihood. 



4 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

If he is fairly well provided for, or is earning 
a living, he will, in most cases, have opportunity 
to test his literary strength. 

If he fails, he has lost so much time. If he 
succeeds, he may take up literature exclusively. 

So long as this world has a material side to it, 
and while the possession of money is necessary to 
feed the material boiler, without which the mental 
engine will not run, it is well for one to consider 
the material, and to have some grasp upon it, be- 
fore he looks up into the clouds, which, however 
beautiful they may be, are not sufficient to sus- 
tain life. 

The beauty of literature, and of everything 
else which appeals to our better selves, cannot 
warm the fireless body, or, by itself alone, furnish 
clothing, food, or lodging. 

If you have the ability to write, you have the 
capacity to be self-supporting. But do not at- 
tempt to feed the world with words on an empty 
stomach. Ground yourself sufficiently in the 
material, to be able to meet the necessities of life. 
With these as a foundation, you may then attempt 
to do those better things which lift man above the 



ENTERING A LITERARY CAREER 5 

animal and make the material of second conse- 
quence. At the start, it is not of second conse- 
quence, — it is of first importance. 

The literature that lives is from the mind of 
living writers, not from those who have not suf- 
ficient of the necessities of life to more than 
kindle the fire which burns in the head of litera- 
ture. 

Then, no one can write living words who has 
not lived, who has not experienced material 
things, who has not seen the dull, unpolished side 
of the shield of life, which, without it, could not 
sustain the glory of the other side. 

If you would be a literary light, store material 
oil, or your light will flicker and go out. 



CHAPTER II 

The Writing of Novels 

THE would-be novelist, or writer of fiction, 
naturally is looking for some one to tell 
him what he should know, and what he should do, 
to become proficient in his prospective calling. 
He will continue his inquiries up to the limit of 
his capacity to question, and he may expect an 
answer ; but he will not find it in this book, or re- 
ceive a truthful answer to his inquiry, or any 
answer at all, except one based upon generali- 
ties ; because, if there were ever any rules or regu- 
lations for the production of the novel or the work 
of fiction, they are hidden so far below the sur- 
face that neither the modern dredge nor the pene- 
trating digger is large enough, strong enough, or 
sharp enough, to excavate them. 

It would be as difficult for me, or for any other 
writer, to furnish specific directions for the writ- 

6 



THE WRITING OF NOVELS 7 

ing or making of fiction, as it would be to frame 
a statute law which the state could effectively use 
for the manufacture of gentlemen. All that I can 
do, and all that anybody else can do, is to make 
a few suggestions, which may and may not be of 
assistance to one who would produce fiction. 

A novel, or work of fiction, as commonly de- 
fined, is a written or printed story, having one or 
more leading characters, who appear upon the 
paper stage, and act according to the directions 
of the author, say the things he writes into their 
mouths, whether or not the plot or action of the 
story is founded upon what has actually occurred. 

The author assumes the right to make his char- 
acters do and say what he wants them to do and 
say, and to create situations for them. If he is 
wise, he will have them say the words, and do the 
things, which he thinks they would say and do 
if they were subjected to the conditions and en- 
vironments in which he has placed them. 

Literary license permits the fiction writer to 
exaggerate, to create impossible conditions and 
situations, and to do practically what he pleases 
with his characters, provided that he produces 



8 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

something interesting to a sufficient number of 
readers to justify the publication of his work. 

The best novels are, however, those which are 
realistic and natural, with characters and scenes 
drawn from real life, although not necessarily 
from common, everyday life. Extraordinary 
characters, doing extraordinary things, and say- 
ing extraordinary words, are not, however, ob- 
jectionable, if an extraordinary, and yet possible, 
environment is provided for them. 

While the mirror of fiction should reflect nature, 
it need not reflect only the common things we see, 
or be the sounding board for the common words 
we hear. 

The average successful novel has, for its lead- 
ing character or characters, a man and woman, or 
men and women, who are able to converse more in- 
telligently and more brilliantly than can the ma- 
jority of people we meet. The tame, everyday, 
ordinary character cannot sustain a leading part 
in a novel. If ordinary men and women are to be 
introduced, they should appear as supernumer- 
aries. The floor of the stage of the story may 
be on common ground, but upon it must appear 



THE WRITING OF NOVELS 9 

characters which walk faster than most folks walk, 
and scenes which, although natural and true to 
life, are, at least, somewhat unusual. 

Comparatively few novels are without two 
prominent characters, — one a man, the other a 
woman, — and the author usually makes them 
into lovers, and allows them to marry at some 
stage in the story, but postpones the wedding un- 
til the last chapter. 

Few successful works of fiction are without 
sentiment, — portrayals of love between men and 
women. The shadows, as well as the sunbeams, 
of love should be in evidence, and the author al- 
most invariably introduces disaster of some kind, 
with the assistance of one or more disreputable 
characters, or villains. 

It is obvious that even the purest fiction needs 
a dark setting for the full display of its white- 
ness; and the author, therefore, may very prop- 
erly introduce characters and situations, which, 
by contrast, allow the hero and heroine to appear 
in a light which would not seem to be as clear or 
as brilliant if the scenes and situations of the 
story permitted no contrast. It would seem, 



10 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

then, that contrast, or difference, should be a part 
of the composition of the successful novel, and of 
other works of fiction, even of adventure; and 
love in no way interferes with the excitement of 
danger, but rather enhances its intensity. 

The historical novel, that is, fiction written 
around historical facts, need not necessarily con- 
tain more than a small amount of sentiment, but 
there would appear to be no good reason why the 
silken thread of love should not be interwoven into 
the dark fabric of the past. 

The acceptable novel has, as a rule, plenty of 
action. The characters do not sit still or lei- 
surely walk or talk. They do something or say 
something, except within the pauses of descrip- 
tion or explanation. They are passed rapidly 
from one situation to another ; meet alternately 
with good luck and with disaster; they are kept 
on the firing-line, ever ready for action; they are 
grouped in the daylight and transferred in the 
dark ; and by word of mouth and action they make 
it unnecessary for the author to insert long para- 
graphs of explanation or pages of moralizing. 

The successful novel somewhat resembles a 



THE WRITING OF NOVELS 11 

play, except that the play is all dialogue or con- 
versation. 

Practically all of the acceptable novels have a 
happy ending. If the story is one of love or 
sentiment, the male character invariably wins the 
woman of his choice, even though the author finds 
it expedient to have him lose her a dozen times, 
and to fight a hundred battles to win her. Mis- 
understanding and intrigue often occur, but every- 
thing is cleared up before the book closes. 

As I have already intimated, most of the best 
novels, and the so-called best sellers, even though 
they may be purely fiction, are drawn from life, 
and frequently the characters are living, or have 
lived, in the flesh. The names of persons and 
places have been changed, and situations which 
have occurred have been portrayed, or new ones 
have been created. If the later method is used, 
the proficient author makes his characters do and 
act as they would if they were literally placed 
within the environment, or under the conditions, 
that the author has created for them. 

From among his friends or acquaintances, the 
author selects characters to represent his heroes, 



12 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

and as many other characters as are essential for 
the working out of the plot. He carries these 
characters through the book, attempting to make 
each one do and say what he imagines they would 
do and say under similar conditions. In no other 
way can he hope to produce a story both realistic 
and interesting. It is not necessary that the 
characters should have experienced, in real life, 
all of the conditions created for them in the story, 
if the author is sufficiently close to his characters, 
and has the ability to so diagnose their chafacter- 
istics, that at no time they are likely to get far 
away from what they would probably do under the 
given circumstances. 

The author begins by the construction of a. 
plot; that is to say, he outlines the scheme of 
his story, either with or without writing it upon 
paper. He has before him a mental picture of 
what he purposes to have occur, and the places 
which are necessary for the carrying out of his 
story. Of course, he has a right to take liber- 
ties with his characters, and with the situations 
in which he has placed them. His descriptions of 
places need not be geographically correct, so long 



THE WRITING OF NOVELS 13 

as similar places exist or could exist. His char- 
acters remain and work out their destiny in his 
brain; and while thus engaged, he writes about 
them, giving each a touch of the real, which would 
be impossible if he did not keep in the closest con- 
tact with them and the environment he has created 
for them. 

While much latitude is allowed, descriptions of 
places should be taken from what exists, but two 
or more places may be combined into one. A 
reasonable amount of elimination is permissible, 
but do not attempt to create a town or locality 
out of your own mind. Select a place that you 
know something about, and allow your action to 
occur within it. This will materially assist you, 
and add much realism to your story. Have a 
real town or one which approaches the real, and 
place real characters within it, making them do 
what you think they would do if they were there 
and subjected to the conditions you have made for 
them. 

Realism plus imagination makes the best com- 
bination. One without the other is not likely to 
be interesting to the average reader. 



14 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Now as to style. There is no acceptable one, 
and there is no definite rule covering it. It is 
obvious that no matter how much you have read 
or studied, you cannot hope to succeed, except in 
a very moderate way, unless you possess a style 
of your own, not necessarily one which is a great 
departure from the styles of others, but one in 
which there is something which is characteristic of 
you, and not an exact copy of others. 

The greatest artist cannot acceptably dupli- 
cate a great painting from the brush of another. 
He may obtain inspiration from it, but the real 
brush-work must be his own, if he would produce 
more than a mere copy. 

The writer of fiction should be well read. He 
should be familiar with literature in general, and 
intimately acquainted with novels, and the lives, 
methods, characteristics, and moods of the novel- 
ist. He will naturally absorb some of the style 
of others, but provided he does not actually repro- 
duce it, this borrowing will not injure his work. 
Above all, he must be himself, — he cannot be any- 
body else and succeed. He cannot successfully 
duplicate the success of another. 



THE WRITING OF NOVELS 15 

Individuality counts more in literature than it 
does in any other department of work. Without 
personality, no book can be more than mediocre. 
If you have not enough of it to produce a good 
story, take up some other calling. 

I regret to say that fully ninety per cent of 
book writers would be better off if they shelved 
their literary ambition. They cannot, or do not, 
produce matter worthy of publication; and any 
attempt on their part outrages the public taste 
and is a failure, even though their work may be 
printed. Do not allow yourself to feel that you 
possess great story-writing ability, because in- 
discriminating friends flatter you. I will guaran- 
tee to produce a manuscript, worthless and sense- 
less, and yet find among my friends at least a 
dozen who will tell me that I have written a work 
of merit. The majority of our friends either 
do not discriminate, or are unintentionally un- 
fair. They condemn what should not be con- 
demned, and praise what should not be praised. 
Most of them will tell the writer what he wants to 
be told, irrespective of the truth. 

The opinion of one friend, even though he be 



16 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

a literary expert, should not be considered con- 
clusive, whether he condemns a manuscript or 
commends it. The judgment of several discrim- 
inating literary persons should be obtained, if 
possible, before the manuscript is sent to the pub- 
lisher. 

Of course, I am aware that many a manuscript 
has been uncompromisingly condemned, and yet 
the reading public has placed upon it the stamp 
of approval. And, conversely, it is true that hun- 
dreds of manuscripts have received enthusiastic ap- 
proval and have passed muster, yet have been 
dismal failures. 

Public opinion is the only court of final resort, 
and even that is not infallible, for the public has 
accepted, read, and purchased thousands of books 
which desecrate white paper. 

There is not, at the present time, any rule, 
gauge, or scale which will accurately measure or 
weigh literary values. Books succeed without ap- 
parent literary or other quality, and books fail to 
meet public approval when they are worthy of the 
highest commendation. 

The competent literary adviser, reader, or ex- 



THE WRITING OF NOVELS 17 

pert, will tell you that neither he, nor any one 
else, can diagnose the future of a manuscript, with 
more than an ordinary degree of correctness. 
But this condition must not be taken by the would- 
be writer to indicate that he should, or should 
not, attempt to produce literature. If he is in- 
competent to do so, sooner or later he will meet 
his Waterloo, even though several of his books 
may appear to be well armored. If he has in him 
the stuff that authorship is made of, he will win 
in the end, if he lives long enough. 

Thousands of would-be writers believe that they 
have been called to write fiction, and they write; 
and occasionally gain the appearance of success. 
The mere call to write should not be considered as 
prima facie evidence of literary ability, until the 
call comes from several disconnected directions. 

Any one with an education may feed upon a 
dictionary and string words together, and the lines 
and sentences may be of good construction and not 
outrage the rules of rhetoric; and yet, compara- 
tively few can lay tracks with words fit for the 
train of public approval to travel upon. 

Fiction writing, with a possible exception of 



18 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

play writing, is the most remunerative of all. 
More money has probably been made by story 
writing than in any other form of literature. The 
field is broad and unconfined, although strewn 
with the rocks of competition, the intervening 
spaces being filled with ever-growing crops. 

Let not the would-be writer comfort himself 
with the feeling that because he has an education 
he can produce acceptable fiction. Some educa- 
tion is necessary for the proper handling or jug- 
gling of words, but it is a fact that many of our 
greatest novelists did not pass academically be- 
yond the common school. 

I am not condemning a college education for 
the would-be novelist. It should help him. But 
a liberal education in itself will be of little value, 
unless the holder of it has the proper tempera- 
ment and imagination, and the ability to create 
well-conceived and stirring scenes, and to con- 
struct dialogue or conversation which will, at 
least, appear to ring true to life, and present to 
the reader the kind of matter which will interest 
and entertain him with or without instructing! 
him. 



THE WRITING OF NOVELS 19 

In other chapters I have discussed several 
phases of fiction writing, and have spoken par- 
ticularly of the financial returns. 

Probably more writers, and would-be writers, 
take up fiction than any other class of literature, 
because it appeals to them, and because it is sup- 
posed to be the most remunerative. 



CHAPTER III 

The Writing of a Short Story 

THE number of short-story writers is legion. 
Probably more than half a million men and 
women in the United States and Canada think 
that they can write, and do write, short stories. 
Not more than five per cent of these are pub- 
lished, unless they are sent to country weeklies, 
which are not likely to pay anything for them. 

It has been said that it is more difficult to write 
a short story than it is to compose a novel. At 
any rate, I think there are more successful book 
writers than there are short-story writers. It is 
extremely difficult to handle any subject, or any 
character, in a few thousand words. 

The short story, then, to be successful, must 
cover its ground, not only by the words it con- 
tains, but by inference. It must pass quickly 
from one scene to another; the dialogue must be 
20 



THE WRITING OF A SHORT STORY 21 

bright and snappy; and, as in a play, the author 
must make his characters self-explanatory to a 
large extent. 

Many short-story writers make a great mistake 
in attempting to handle too many characters and 
situations. It is better to have not more than 
two or three prominent characters, and to confine 
the action of the story to one place or to a very 
few places. If more characters are used, it is dif- 
ficult, within the limited space, to show reason for 
their existence; and if they are frequently trans- 
planted from one place to another, some explana- 
tion must be given, which lengthens out the story 
and makes it too short for a book and too long 
for a short story. 

The book writer has opportunity to describe 
his persons and places. The short-story writer 
must get down to business, so to speak, present 
characters, which will be readily understood, and 
confine the dialogue to quick action, more or less 
self-explanatory, pertinent, and to the point. He 
must so arrange this dialogue that, although it 
is obviously incomplete, it will comprehensively 
carry the story. 



22 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Let us suppose, for example, that his characters 
are talking upon a certain subject. It is ob- 
vious that they would naturally say many times 
as much as the author has room for in his story. 
He must weed out with a harrow, and yet, in do- 
ing so, not make his dialogue jerky or apparently 
incomplete. 

Most of the successful short stories are, at 
least, half dialogue. Much space can be saved 
by omitting " he said," " said he," " replied he," or 
" he replied," which need not be used, except 
when the omission would confuse the reader. In a 
dialogue, " he said " and the like need not accom- 
pany more than a third of the spoken words. 

Of course, when more than two are speaking, it 
is necessary to precede or follow their remarks 
with "John said," "I said," or "I replied," 
otherwise the reader will become confused. 

The characters should not be permitted to speak 
more than two hundred words at the outside with- 
out an interruption. If necessary for them to de- 
liver a sort of lecture, what they say should be 
broken up into paragraphs, with the use of " re- 
sumed he," " he resumed," or " he continued." 



THE WRITING OF A SHORT STORY 23 

It is popularly supposed that characters will 
write themselves, so to speak. This is true, to an 
extent, but occurs more in books than in short 
stories. 

The short-story writer should lay out his plot 
or scheme in advance, using the fewest number of 
characters, and one or two places. With this 
working outline in his mind, he places these char- 
acters in their situations and makes them work 
out his story, rapidly, and yet not apparently 
abruptly. 

If the story is one of adventure, or largely de- 
scriptive of some particular place, there may be 
less dialogue or conversation. It is always ad- 
visable, whenever it is possible to do so, to make 
the characters explain the situation, rather than 
to have long descriptions or explanations between 
the " heats " of conversation. 

The inexperienced short-story writer is very 
prone to moralize, to overdescribe, to make what 
he calls a character-study. It is, then, more of 
an essay than a story, and is less interesting to 
the reader. 

A short story must fairly radiate life and ac- 



M THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

tion. The characters must do things and say 
things. It should end with a sort of climax, not 
necessarily a sensational one. Either the con- 
versation, or a short explanation, should bring 
things up to a finish. If the leading character is 
to die in the last paragraph, he either must have 
completed his work, or else his sudden taking away 
must be satisfactory to the reader. 

Stories with sad endings are not popular. 

If you are writing a sentimental short story, 
either marry the couple or assure the reader that 
they are going to be married. 

If there is a villain in the story, he should re- 
ceive his deserts before the story closes. Either 
punish him or reform him. Do not leave him 
where he was in the first place. 

If the story is of adventure, do not let a wild 
beast kill your hero in the last paragraph. He 
must come out ahead of the game, but there is no 
particular objection to allowing a lion to get the 
better of the villain. 

If a husband and wife lead the story, and they 
have misunderstandings, let them kiss each other 
before you are through with them, or obtain a 



THE WRITING OF A SHORT STORY 25 

respectable divorce, each to marry somebody 
else. 

If there is nothing sensational, or out of the 
ordinary, then your characters must be unusually 
brilliant and their conversation about common 
things above the average in wit and pointedness. 

The public does not want to know how a mother 
toasted cheese, unless the toasting of cheese plays 
an important part on the domestic stage. Each 
character must either do something which is a 
little unusual, or say common things in a brilliant 
way. They should act and talk as they would 
probably do, if placed in the situations created 
for them, subject to permissible exaggeration. 
If they merely appear to represent the author's 
style, and do not have what is an apparent per- 
sonality of their own, then the story, even 
though it may be filled with conversation, is but 
a verbal essay. 

The characters should show diverse character- 
istics. There should be no two of them alike. 
Each one should appear to be a sort of specialist 
of his kind, however natural the portrayal may 
be. 



26 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Descriptions should dovetail into the policy of 
the story. If, for example, your hero is a miner, 
there is no need of describing the general con- 
ditions of his mining town, unless they have a 
bearing upon the story itself. Better keep your 
miner in the mine or near the mine, and let him 
associate almost entirely with those he comes in 
contact with in real life. Do not run off at a 
tangent, and attempt to describe what is not per- 
tinent to the story, or to take the character out of 
the story's environment. Concentrate both com- 
position and description, keeping close within the 
lines of what it is necessary for the reader to 
know, that he may understand the situation. 

Do not have too many sides to a character. Do 
not attempt to cover the whole town. 

The successful short story is about a few peo- 
ple, and what they do in a short period of time 
within a limited territory. 

Of course, you can allow several years to elapse 
between one incident and another, but even then 
you need not change either your characters or 
horses on the trip, and the lapsing period of sev- 
eral years requires but a line for explanation. 



THE WRITING OF A SHORT STORY 27 

Short stories may begin with a conversation, 
or with a description, and may close with a few 
words of one of the characters, or the story may 
end with a brief summing up. 

Short stories should contain not less than 
twenty-five hundred words, nor more than five or 
six thousand* 



CHAPTER IV 

The Stoey of Adventure 

THE story of adventure, including the por- 
trayal of danger, and of even hairbreadth 
escapes, is, and always will be, of selling quality. 
Every magazine, and all other periodicals, publish 
one or more of these stories every year ; and there 
are two magazines devoted exclusively to this class 
of literature. 

The story of adventure, which is realistic and 
interesting, and holds the attention of the reader, 
is invariably written by one familiar with the life 
depicted. One who is not, should not attempt to 
produce it. If he does, he will be writing at arm's 
length, and is not likely to give out anything 
which will meet with more than indifferent accept- 
ance. 

No one can properly present the sport of fish- 
ing, who is not a fisherman, and who has not as- 

28 



THE STORY OF ADVENTURE 29 

sociated with fishermen. It is impossible for any 
one to place upon paper a vivid description of 
the woods, unless he has lived in them and tramped 
through them. One unfamiliar with wild beasts 
should keep the jungle out of his stories. 

While experience with danger and with adven- 
ture is not, in itself, sufficient for the writing of 
this class of literature, and while ability properly 
to present what has occurred is essential, it is ob- 
vious that no amount of ability will produce an ac- 
ceptable result unless the writer is in close touch 
with what he is attempting to portray. 

The story of adventure must be vividly and 
strikingly realistic, and should, as a rule, have 
a happy or successful ending. The adventurer, 
or the principal characters in the story, should not 
be killed, but should come out victorious. 

Occasionally it is possible for a seasoned 
writer to produce an acceptable story of adven- 
ture, taking his points from one who has experi- 
enced it; but familiarity with danger will enable 
him better to report what is told him, than he pos- 
sibly can if he has only the tale of one who has 
passed through the scenes. Therefore, I would 



SO THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

say that one had better not attempt this class of 
writing, unless he has experienced the unusual, 
and has a temperament which will allow him to 
write out facts and impressions vividly. 

The writing of regular or ordinary matter or 
literature is easier, and is likely to be more ac- 
ceptable to the reader. 



CHAPTER V 

The Mystery Story 

THERE is, at present, a demand, which may 
not be permanent, for stories of mystery, 
containing intricate plots, each character confus- 
ing the others and the reader, the riddle to be 
solved in the last chapter. 

It is difficult to form the plot of a mystery story 
so as to sustain the interest of the reader for sev- 
eral hundred pages, and then to clear up the 
puzzle in a few words or pages. 

I would advise the would-be novelist not to at- 
tempt the mystery form of story, unless he has 
reason to believe that he can skillfully construct 
the plot, and create action, which, in itself, will 
be interesting. Of course, all stories should carn r 
the reader to the solution, and there should be 

some mystery in them, but this cannot be handled 

31 



32 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

with the intensity of the successful mystery novel 
except by a few writers. 

Not one writer in a thousand, — I may say, not 
one writer in ten thousand, — can successfully 
originate or write out a mystery story. 

Better not attempt the very difficult, until you 
have mastered the simpler forms of story writing. 



CHAPTER VI 

The Detective Story 

THE marvelous success of Dr. Doyle, prin- 
cipally with his " Sherlock Holmes," has 
flooded the market with detective stories of every 
class and grade, most of them too improbable to 
be interesting and entertaining. 

No one can write an acceptable detective story, 
unless he has the detective instinct, which he may 
possess without being a professional detective. 

I would not advise the young writer to attempt 
a story of a detective nature, unless some detec- 
tive or officer has outlined the scheme for him, 
until he has come in contact with those things 
which make up a detective's work. 

He cannot be realistic, unless he has lived in 
the atmosphere of crime, either as a detective or 
officer, or in close association with it. 

He may be able to produce, in his imagination, 
33 



84 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

a detective story which reads smoothly to the 
average reader; but it is obvious that his im- 
perfectly constructed scheme will meet with harsh 
criticisms from newspaper men and others, who 
will readily detect the writer's inexperience and 
unfamiliarity with the subject. Here, as in 
other places, I would advise the young writer not 
to attempt anything out of the ordinary in the 
way of plot, until he becomes familiar with neces- 
sary conditions, and has a mind adaptable to them. 
When in doubt, keep in the middle of the road 
of literature. Geniuses and experts only have the 
right of way over the sidetracks and bypaths. 



CHAPTER VII 

Stories for Children 

THERE is an increasing demand for chil- 
dren's stories, — stories for children to read 
or to have read to them. 

Because it is so difficult to write this class of 
literature, there is comparatively little of it on 
the market; and there is, perhaps, more opportu- 
nity in this direction than in any other. Bear in 
mind, however, that it is more difficult to write 
an acceptable children's story, than it is to pro- 
duce almost anything else in the line of story 
writing. 

It is easier for the educated person to use big 
words than to practice simplicity, and simplicity 
is all important in stories for children. 

No one has ever produced a second " Robinson 
Crusoe." This book stands, to-day, as the great- 
est story ever written for children and young 

35 



86 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

people. Every word is simple, every sentence can 
be understood. 

The experienced writer, particularly if he be 
well-educated, and associates with literary men, 
has an almost unquenchable tendency to produce 
a style which certainly does not represent sim- 
plicity. He uses long words and complex sentences. 
His meaning is not always easily understood; 
his situations are sometimes difficult to com- 
prehend; his descriptions are often hard to grasp. 
Therefore, he cannot produce a story which will 
interest children, and if he attempts to do so, his 
failure is assured. 

The successful writer of stories for children 
lays his plot close to the home. His incidents are 
homemade; and unless his story is one of travel, 
he does not often remove his characters beyond 
the town they live in. 

His dialogues and conversations are simple and 
natural; his characters are those which the chil- 
dren understand, because they live with them or 
have seen them. He does not take anything for 
granted, and all that he writes is self-explanatory, 
or he explains it in the simplest words. 



STORIES FOR CHILDREN 37 

Nearly every newspaper either maintains a 
children's department or frequently runs stories 
or anecdotes for children; and the call for this 
sort of matter is increasing. Book publishers 
are looking for manuscripts of good stories for 
children, and many magazines carry them. 

Do not attempt to produce this class of story 
unless you KNOW children. It is, however, ad- 
mitted that the bearing of children is not essential 
to the production of child lore or story. Many of 
the ablest writers, as well as many of the most ef- 
ficient keepers of homes for children, are neither 
mothers nor wives; in fact, experience would seem 
to indicate that motherhood is not always condu- 
cive to the wisest practice of child-care. The 
maiden, who is without the bias of motherhood, and 
may see with wider vision and write with broader 
pen, often understands the child-problem better 
than does she, who, because she is a mother, can- 
not as readily differentiate between mother-love 
and mother-duty. 

Speaking of simplicity, it should be cultivated 
by writers of every kind of literature. 

The best stories are simple; the best writers, — 



38 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

those who live, — did not spill the dictionary over 
their pages. Although their plots may be com- 
plicated and mysterious, and they may handle 
weighty subjects, their pen- and word-pictures 
approach simplicity, for they have kneaded clear- 
ness with complexity until the whole lump is 
leavened with digestible simplicity. 



CHAPTER VIII 

Humorous Writing 

THERE always has been, is, and always will 
be, a market for good humor. I am sorry 
to say, however, that I doubt if there are more 
than two dozen writers of humor in the United 
States who earn a livelihood with their pens. 

Most of the so-called funny stories, which ap- 
pear in the newspapers, are copied from the hu- 
morous papers, or are written by staff editors, 
who receive no additional pay for the funny stuff 
they originate. 

The humorous papers pay good prices, but 
there are less than half a dozen of them all told. 
These papers usually pay the writer of a joke, 
occupying an inch or two of type, from one to 
five dollars. The authors of humorous sketches, 
or articles appearing in these papers, receive any- 
where from five to twenty-five dollars for a short 

39 



40 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

column. It is obvious, however, that the avail- 
able space in all these periodicals put together is 
very limited. It is also self-evident that no one 
humorous paper would care to carry more than 
one article per issue, or per few issues, of any one 
writer. Therefore, the humorous writer, even of 
the highest grade, may not find a field for more 
than a part of his work. 

The syndicate offers him, perhaps, the best op- 
portunity. With one or two exceptions, I think 
the highest price ever paid for syndicate matter 
is now given to a writer of humor. It is said that 
one of them receives over a thousand dollars for an 
article occupying not over a column, but he is 
a great exception. 

The demand for humorous books is increasing, 
and the sale of some of them is enormous. It is 
obvious, however, that the humor which sells must 
not only be of the highest quality, but highly sea- 
sonable. Further, there must be interwoven into 
the very fiber, threads of philosophy and sense. 
The book must stand for more than humor. It 
must have action, characters, a plot, and much 
dialogue. 



HUMOROUS WRITING 41 

I do not believe that it is possible for any one 
to learn to be humorous. One may have a keen 
sense of humor, and wear a perpetual smile, and 
yet be unable to produce it. 

It has been said, — and the remark is not 
wholly devoid of the truth, — that the humorist 
never laughs, and that the man who laughs is 
never a humorist. Many a man is witty in con- 
versation, and yet cannot write humorous matter; 
and, on the other hand, I know of several men 
who, as speakers, cannot produce even the lifting 
of the eyebrow, and yet are able to write matter so 
bright and so witty that even the misanthrope 
cannot refrain from smiling. 

The writing of humor is an art by itself. Very 
few possess the ability. 

Financially speaking, there is little or nothing 
for the ordinary writer of funny stuff, and much 
money for the exceptional producer of it. 

I would suggest that the humorous writer com- 
municate both with the syndicates and with the 
book publishers ; and, further, that he attempt to 
establish a humorous column in a newspaper. 

Most of our humor writers began on newspa- 



42 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

pers, and they first attracted attention as para- 
graphers. With this training, they became full- 
fledged humorists. 

Many writers can construct one or a few humor- 
ous paragraphs, but to continue to do so, or to 
carry humor through several hundred pages, is 
another proposition. 

Half of the so-called humorous books, articles, 
and stories have failed, not because they did not 
begin in a witty way, but because their humor was 
not sustained, and because it was not properly set 
to real life, although it exaggerated persons and 
conditions. 

Humor, psychologically speaking, is an attack, 
the speaker or writer of it hurling his spoken or 
written words at his hearer or reader. If what 
he says or writes is pleasant to receive, and cre- 
ates an involuntary laugh or smile, then it is 
humorous and he is producing acceptable humor. 
If the attack is merely sarcasm, and wounds the 
one at whom it is aimed, it may be humorous to 
the unhit fellow, but it does not please its imme- 
diate audience. 



HUMOROUS WRITING 43 

Acceptable humor, then, is that which pleases 
to the extent of amusing. It may be pointed and 
sharp, but it should, like the boomerang, wonder- 
fully and gracefully gyrate through the air, to 
fall at last, with spent energy, at the feet of him 
who hurled it. Further, real humor is not dis- 
torted fact, but rather fact not set in its regular 
setting. Its exaggeration, however great it may 
be, is the picture of truth, set, may I say, in a 
wabbly frame or one which is not symmetrical or 
straight. 

Humor consists of taking things from the nat- 
ural world, and of playing them upon a specially 
created, and somewhat unnatural, stage; but the 
natural individuality or personality of each char- 
acter must be preserved, although some or all 
features may be bent, curved, or exaggerated. 

Even an attempt to present the impossible may 
be humorous, if the exaggeration is carried suffi- 
ciently far to be transparent to the reader; but 
this extravaganza is not generally acceptable. 

The reader, as he runs, prefers that the hu- 
morous sketch present the real things of life, with 



44 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

unusual settings, and that they be placed in lights 
which illumine them and give them excuse for be- 
ing not impossible, but unusual. 

Do not try to be funny, if you are not naturally 
humorous. 

Bad narrative or argument is bad enough, but 
bad humor is an abomination. 



CHAPTER IX 

Special Stories or Articles 

UNDER this heading I will discuss stories with 
their action on shipboard, on the railroad, or 
under any other conditions which do not appear in 
the everyday life of the average man. 

Many a writer has produced an unacceptable 
story, because he has laid the plot upon the rail- 
road though he knew nothing about transporta- 
tion. The author on the western prairie, who 
has never seen a vessel larger than a canoe or flat- 
boat, had better not place his characters upon 
shipboard, until he has experienced water travel. 

Do not allow your leading character, or any 
other prominent one, to bring his business, trade, 
or profession into the story more than inciden- 
tally, unless you are familiar with it. 

If you are ignorant of art, do not attempt to 

make your hero into an artist. If you do not 
45 



46 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

know something of journalism, keep newspaper 
men out of your story. If you have no knowl- 
edge of law, do not try to describe a court scene, 
except incidentally. If your leading character is 
a physician, keep away from the practice of his 
profession, and handle him, not as a doctor, but 
as a man. You cannot describe anything, or any 
person, with whom you are unfamiliar. 

If, however, you find it necessary to place in 
your story a specialist, and cannot avoid describ- 
ing the sensations of that profession, get into 
close contact with one or more men representing 
it, and attempt to get their view-points; then, 
after your story is finished, ask them to criticise 
that part of it which pertains to the action of their 
vocation. 

It is not necessary for you to be an expert 
along any special line, but unless you are famil- 
iar with it, you cannot properly describe it, or 
realistically present a character in the environ- 
ment of his trade or under other conditions pe- 
culiar to his calling or tastes. 



CHAPTER X 

The Writing of Poetry 

IF it is difficult, if not impossible, to formulate 
general rules or directions which may be fol- 
lowed for the composition of the novel or other 
work of fiction, it may be said that it is " more 
than impossible " to present even the semblance of 
directions for the making of poetry, other than 
essays on the diction and forms of verse, which 
may be found in several textbooks, including rhet- 
orics. 

It is not the province of this book to produce 
printed instruments for the weighing or measur- 
ing of feet, meter, or rhyme, but rather to make 
a few suggestions, which must not be considered 
directions, and to comment upon the market or 
commercial value of that ever-growing and over- 
spreading plant, poetry, — or, more popularly 
speaking, verse* — among whose luxuriant and 
47 



48 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

often seemingly worthless foliage there occasion- 
ally bloom the fairest flowers of literature. 

Judging from the present crop of verse or 
rhyme, little of which shows poetical tempera- 
ment on the part of its writers, versification is 
growing more rapidly than the most prolific weed 
in the most fertile soil, and is far more difficult to 
subdue. Aptitude for versifying is very common, 
the jingle of words pleasing, and the sport of 
turning a clever phrase absorbing. Besides these 
temptations, every man and woman is at heart a 
potential poet, — the deep experiences of life 
move to stately measures, and the ideal of thought 
seeks to clothe itself in the ideal of expression. 
For these reasons, the annual output of verse, 
per capita, is much greater than the annual out- 
put of prose. Besides, verse may be brief, and a 
transient inspiration may be given short shrift be- 
fore the mood changes. 

The facility shown by the average producer of 
verse is purely mechanical, and quite on a level 
with the common ability to dance or sing. Just 
as there is an infinite chasm between mediocrity 
and genius in singing and in dancing, so there is 



THE WRITING OF POETRY 49 

a like chasm in poetry. That the average per- 
son has some facility speaks well for the race ; it is 
of no moment in the consideration of the art. 

The class of versifiers who send their lines to 
the newspapers and magazines is large for several 
reasons: First, poetic fame is the highest which 
the literary art has to offer; therefore, it has 
many aspirants. Conscious aspiration for it, as 
a thing in itself, is the most certain sign that one 
is not favored with true inspiration. All of this 
class are prolific, and keep manuscript readers 
busy, but they do not " drug the market " as they 
never get into the market. The only circulation 
which their work receives is privately among their 
friends, in manuscript or cheaply printed form, 
or in the columns of the local newspaper, which 
prints it out of compliment to them and without 
thought of paying for it. 

Secondly, the tendency of the average person, 
whose words are weightier than his thoughts, is to 
rattle them about in his mind like loose change 
in his pocket, — and with equal profit. 

Thirdly, many attempt to write verse because 
of the real and worthy vein of sentiment in every 



50 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

human heart, which makes impassioned expres- 
sion, — and that is what poetry is essentially, — 
natural to every one when deeply stirred. The 
lover is always, at moments, a poet, though he be 
tongue-tied. He who is melancholy for any 
reason, serious or trivial, drinks for the moment 
of the fountains which ever feed the souls of the 
poet and philosopher. 

Therefore, it is not to be wondered at that there 
is much verse in the world. That much of it is 
commercially valueless is a foregone conclusion. 

The people who write verse with serious purpose 
and notable result are of two classes, and it is with 
their product that the critic has to deal, and deal 
honestly. If he flinches from his task, or makes 
a mistake, the results are dire and his shame is 
great. 

The first class is composed of the writers whose 
special forte is some field other than poetry, but 
who have talent enough, and earnestness enough, 
occasionally to turn out a really excellent poem. 
They are the real competitors of the poet, both in 
the market and in the hall of fame. But if their 
talent in another direction is ever acknowledged, 



THE WRITING OF POETRY 51 

or if their inclination is toward some other form 
of expression, their competition is only transient, 
and posterity never mistakes them for real poets. 

The credentials of the real poet are always pat- 
ent to those who know him personally. In his 
early writings it may be very difficult to distin- 
guish him from other tainted litterateurs. 
Therein lies his danger, and the all too frequent 
tragedies in the lives of the poets. His work is 
almost sure to be unconventional and startling; 
therefore, it meets the condemnation of the criti- 
cal manuscript reader who has fed on conventions 
until they are bred in the bone. 

The true poet cannot have recourse to prose, 
because what he writes is poetry whatever the 
form it takes. There may be no known rhyme or 
meter in his work ; it may be as elemental in form 
as the singing of the waters and the pulsations of 
the winds; but it is not prose, either in its spirit 
or its diction, and will not be whipped into regu- 
lar lines. 

While the real poet is gathering food for song 
out of life's experiences, and learning the tones of 
his soul, his genius looks like mediocrity or tal- 



52 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

ent, and he has no answer to his critics except the 
call of his future, which they cannot hear. So he 
is like to drown in the vast flood of verse which 
the publishers receive, and if he escapes that fate, 
he is apt to be long left stranded upon the rocks 
while the talented writers who are not poets by 
birth are taken off. If, these perils passed, his 
persistent and skillful knocking at the door of 
literary opportunity lets him in, his fare is poor 
and scanty, because there are so many poetasters 
who must be fed first. He does, however, even- 
tually win recognition, and then, long after fame, 
a livelihood. 

Strange to say, the battle for poetic recogni- 
tion is repeated in every generation, as each poet 
has to conquer singlehanded a world of his own, 
and the appreciation of the actual commercial and 
artistic value of his work has to wait until he has 
educated his public into an understanding of the 
new knowledge he has brought them. 

If anybody must be born for his work, the real 
poet must be born into it. Rhymesters are incuba- 
tor-reared. Probably every writer, male or fe- 
male, and of every condition, including servitude, 



THE WRITING OF POETRY 53 

has sometime in his career thrown out rhymes 
more or less connected with rhythm, many of them 
creating the suspicion that the writer has swal- 
lowed a spelling book, or attempted to eat a dic- 
tionary, with consequent indigestion. 

Every one of the leading magazines receives 
monthly from a hundred to a thousand alleged 
poetical productions, some of the verses of which 
actually rhyme; and the average newspaper, in- 
cluding the country weekly, does not need to pur- 
chase waste paper to start the fire with, if it uses 
for kindlings the rejected manuscripts of verses. 

Many a would-be poet, who cannot write poetry, 
ignores the prose he might produce, and attempts 
to set up in verse thoughts which have not strength 
enough to run away. 

The alleged poets of America write, or other- 
wise produce, more than a million verses a year, 
and seventy-five per cent of them desecrate the 
paper upon which they are written. Twenty per 
cent of them are not injurious, and four per cent 
of them offer excuse for publication. One per 
cent of them redeem the whole. 

If the alleged poets could hear the comments 



54 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

made upon their rhymes by editors and other 
judges of poetry, many of them would not at- 
tempt to express themselves in verse. 

Real poetry, — the kind that lives, — contains 
the innermost thought of the master mind, and 
even the best of prose fails to reveal the emotions of 
the heart, and the convictions of the thoughtful 
brain, as well as they may be portrayed in verse. 

Genuine poetry has the highest literary value, 
and is commercially remunerative. The rhymes 
and verses, which appear in the newspapers and 
in most of the magazines, are insufficient unto the 
day thereof, and are seldom remembered, and, if 
paid for, receive sums hardly worth the taking. 
True, some of the better class of magazines pay 
as high as fifty dollars, or even five hundred dol- 
lars, for a poem, but comparatively few poets 
realize more than five to ten dollars per piece for 
their labors. 

Newspapers seldom, if ever, pay for a rhyme or 
verse, unless it be of humorous character, or is 
particularly seasonable ; and then the sum realized 
by the writer is not likely to exceed five or ten 
dollars. 



THE WRITING OF POETRY 55 

The best poetry is published in book form, and 
all, or some, of the verses may have appeared in 
the magazines. 

There are, in the United States to-day, prob- 
ably not exceeding twenty-five who receive a 
reasonable income from their poetry, and I do not 
recall the names of more than half a dozen who 
make a living at it. 

If you have an exceedingly vivid, and yet con- 
trolled, imagination, and are able profitably to 
search the very depth of your mind, and if your 
mind be of unusual depth, and you are poetically 
inclined, probably you can produce poetry which 
may be sold and read. Do not imagine for one 
moment, however, that because you are sentimen- 
tal, you are a poet. More than mere sentimen- 
tality is necessary for the production of real 
poetry. 

The superabundance of rhymes and verses upon 
the market has depreciated the poetry price, and 
the chances are that few receive more than small 
sums, even for verses which are worthy of publica- 
tion. Comparatively few people can write real 
poetry. 



56 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

It is difficult, even with a vivid imagination and 
with great ability, to place the innermost thoughts 
of the soul upon paper. Thousands of writers 
have poetical minds. They can produce poetry 
in prose, but not poetry in rhyme. Their best 
thoughts, their highest sentiments, they may 
find difficult to place upon paper under the handi- 
cap of the necessity of making one line rhyme 
with another. These writers can best express 
themselves in what is called poetic prose, for which 
there is an open market. 

Commercially speaking, the field of poetry is 
greatly limited. Probably not exceeding one 
dozen magazines will pay more than a few dol- 
lars for a poem of merit, and book publishers re- 
fuse, as a rule, to consider the publication of a 
book of poems, unless the writer is one of a dozen, 
with a reputation sufficient to carry the book. 

The only wise rule to follow is that he who can 
write prose should not attempt poetry. He may 
find that, among his prose, he has inadvertently 
written a few poems. If so, well, as his prose is 
all the richer for so great a degree of talent. But 
if, while modestly attempting prose, he finds, and 



THE WRITING OF POETRY 57 

the world also finds, that he has written nothing 
but poetry, then his fate is inevitable, — he must 
accept a poet's fame, though with it come only a 
meager livelihood. 



CHAPTER XI 

Play Writing 

PLAY writing, although it may be considered 
in a literary class preeminently its own, re- 
quires the same amount of imagination, original- 
ity, and ability, which is necessary for the con- 
struction of a work of fiction. 

Unless one is familiar with the stage, both from 
the back of it, and from the view-point of the au- 
ditorium, it is probable that he cannot produce a 
profitable or acceptable play. 

The writer of book or magazine fiction may ex- 
plain its characters and situations in the text, and 
is not wholly dependent upon dialogue or conversa- 
tion. 

In the play, the characters, by action and prin- 
cipally by spoken words, carry the burden of the 
plot; in fact, the success of the play is as de- 
pendent upon what is said as upon the plot itself. 

A play, then, is virtually a story worked out 
58 



PLAY WRITING 59 

largely in conversation, with the assistance of 
scenery and situations. The writer of it, there- 
fore, must explain his situations, and unravel his 
plot, very largely by the words he places in the 
mouths of his actors. If, for example, he desires 
to bring out the characteristics or local color of a 
town, he must do so from spoken words, which in 
themselves must explain the situation and be suf- 
ficient for the audience to obtain by easy inference 
an idea of what is taking place. Of course, the 
costumes worn and the scenery will assist, but 
they are subordinate to the dialogue itself. 

The playwright may, at times, allow the actors 
to think aloud, to speak what are technically known 
as " asides, 55 but soliloquy must be used very spar- 
ingly in the modern drama, for the audience de- 
mands active action, not passive action. 

It is necessary, then, for the playwright to pre- 
sent, by spoken words, and with the assistance of 
costume, scenery, and situations, the scheme of his 
play, — something which cannot be done unless 
one is thoroughly familiar with stage conditions. 

The writer of a book, or of a story, can present 
his scheme with the introduction of written expla- 



60 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

nations, and can move his characters and scenes 
consistently from one place to another by the in- 
troduction of a few words. 

On the stage, conditions are diametrically oppo- 
site. Explanations, except by conversation, are 
practically impossible, and lapses are not per- 
mitted without the dropping of the curtain. 

If the leading character in a book, for example, 
desires to change his clothes, he can do so almost 
instantaneously ; but on the stage he must be given 
sufficient time; and, if this change is made while 
the curtain is up, the author must keep the play 
moving and interesting to the audience until the 
leading man returns. 

The playwright must provide for all emergen- 
cies, and not allow the action to be discontinued 
for even a moment, except when the curtain is 
down; and he is required to so arrange his con- 
versation and situations that the several charac- 
ters will appear and reappear consistently. 

Then, it is by no means easy, in the limited num- 
ber of words which can be spoken during the acting 
of the play, to present situations, or to explain 
them; and it is far more difficult to do this on the 



PLAY WRITING 61 

stage than it is to accomplish the same thing in a 
book. 

A book-writing license allows the author to 
carry a long conversation, plentifully interspersed 
with explanation. On the stage long speeches are 
seldom permissible, and there is neither time nor 
place for inactive explanations. The action must 
be rapid, continuous, and self-explanatory. The 
playwright must not only produce dialogue or 
speaking parts, but he must create situations which 
can be so handled by the actors that they will be 
intelligible to the audience. He cannot leave much 
to the imagination. He must present his story 
so that they can grasp it, and follow it without 
perceptible effort. 

Of course, the playwright may not expose the 
finish of the plot until the last act, but interest 
must be sustained even though the audience is 
kept guessing at the result. 

As many of the audience arrive late, and as 
there seems to be no way in sight to remedy this 
evil, which shows a general lack of culture and 
breeding, the playwright is often obliged to open 
his play with insignificant words, spoken by minor 



62 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

characters, and to postpone the beginning of the 
unraveling of his plot until the middle of the first 
act. This same condition prevails at the close of 
the play, when half of the audience is getting ready 
to leave. Consequently, the great climax should 
come a few minutes before the dropping of the 
final curtain. 

Some playwrights very ingeniously construct 
their plays, so that the audience does not realize 
that one is about to close until it comes to an end 
with a dramatic snap. 

Love and sentiment seem to be essential to the 
success of the majority of modern plays, and prac- 
tically all profitable ones contain several love-mak- 
ing scenes. 

The play usually has three leading characters: 
first, the hero; secondly, the heroine; thirdly, the 
villain. 

For the purpose of relaxing the intensity of the 
interest, secondary and yet prominent characters 
are introduced, and these parts are sustained by 
what are known as male and female juveniles, or 
young people who are in love with each other, 
and whose love-making is humorous to some ex- 



PLAY WRITING 63 

tent. There are usually introduced other char- 
acters as fillers: a servant or two, a tradesman, a 
lawyer, a doctor, one or two mothers, a couple of 
mothers-in-law, factory hands, a policeman, a 
judge, or a conservative business man. 

Successful plays have been written, however, 
with not exceeding four, five, or six persons in the 
cast, but the majority of them have a dozen speak- 
ing parts, and occasionally twice that number. 
Even the so-called populace is introduced, — men, 
women, and children who merely walk or play, with 
few of them speaking more than a dozen words. 

Besides producing the conversational part of the 
play, and creating the situations, the author must 
suggest the clothes to be worn, and mark in the 
entrances and exits. 

To be successful, the playwright must be pro- 
ficient in climaxing. The curtain should never 
fall upon a flat or dull line. Something snappy, 
witty, or of climax quality should close every scene 
and act. While the great climax comes at the 
end or close to the end, there should be subor- 
dinate climaxes occurring with each change of 
scene or dropping of the curtain. The first act 



64 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

of a two-act play should end with a considerable 
climax, and there should be a strong climax at 
the end of the second act of a three-act play, and 
at the end of the third act of a four- or five-act 
play. 

The playwright has before him one great ob- 
stacle, which it is hard to meet. It is often diffi- 
cult, if not impossible, properly to balance a play 
to the satisfaction of the leading man or woman. 
Often these actors demand what is known as the 
front of the stage, and most of the speaking parts, 
particularly the strong ones. Let us suppose, for 
example, that one of the minor characters intro- 
duced is that of an able and far-sighted man of 
unusual judgment. He can consistently be given 
strong words to say, and large opportunities. 
But if the leading actor does not sustain this part, 
much of what this character could be permitted to 
speak or act must be eliminated, for if this is not 
done, the words and opportunities of the leading 
man will be shadowed. 

The playwright, then, is not only obliged to 
produce an acceptable play from the view-point of 
the audience, but he must, in many cases, write his 



PLAY WRITING 65 

words, and arrange his situations, to the satis- 
faction of the leading actors. 

Probably half of the successful plays are writ- 
ten especially for some one actor or actress, who 
demands continuous prominence, even to the sacri- 
fice of the others in the cast. 

It is usually essential, therefore, for the play- 
wright to keep the leading actor and actress con- 
tinually in the lime-light, and in the front of the 
stage, even if he has seriously to blanket other 
lights which could consistently shine. 

The rapid growth of the stock company is de- 
cidedly to the playwright's advantage; for the 
stock company, while it has its leading men and 
women, is not likely to employ stars of more than 
ordinary magnitude. 

The manager of the stock company does not al- 
ways give his leading men and women the strong- 
est parts. Therefore, a play which might not 
suit a brilliant star, will be acceptable to the stock 
company. 

Unfortunately, comparatively few new plays 
are brought out by stock companies, at the pres- 
ent time; but with the growth of these organiza- 



66 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

tions, the day is rapidly approaching when stock 
company managers will be able to own plays of a 
quality equal to that of those which they now 
lease. 

The most successful plays, as they run, end 
happily. The hero and heroine get married or 
their engagement is announced. The villain, who 
has interfered, receives his deserts. Everything is 
cleaned up, with virtue winning. The play termi- 
nates to the satisfaction of the audience. Occa- 
sionally plays have succeeded with sad endings, 
but, as a rule, it is better to have them close to the 
pleasure of the audience. 

May I not diverge for a while, and attempt to 
describe the several classes of plays? 

What is known as the one-act play, or curtain- 
raiser, is usually presented at a vaudeville house. 
It seldom has more than three or four characters, 
often only two. A bell-boy or other stage attache 
may be employed as a walking part. The action 
is extremely rapid, the dialogue brilliant (or is 
supposed to be), and more or less witty, unless the 
play is tragic ; but comparatively few of the latter 
class are on the boards. 



PLAY WRITING 67 

Much license is given to these plays, for the 
average audience will accept even the grossest ex- 
aggerations. They contain but a few thousand 
words, and occupy a time of not exceeding thirty 
minutes, many of them being written into as short 
a period as twenty minutes. The play must start 
with a rush and end in a hurry; and as there is 
little opportunity for explanation, the words and 
situations must be vividly self-explanatory. 

The action of practically all of these one-act 
plays is located in one spot, and usually in one 
room, or in a garden, grove, or on shipboard. 

The so-called monologue can hardly be consid- 
ered a play. A monologue consists of a continu- 
ous train of remarks by one person, who may be 
seated in a parlor, or standing on the street; and 
it is not required that the train of words remain 
on the track. It may be switched on to sidetracks, 
and run wild. Usually the actor of it illustrates 
what are supposed to be personal experiences. 
Practically all successful monologues are of a hu- 
morous nature, and most of them describe impos- 
sible situations, but with a strain of truth run- 
ning through them. 



68 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Usually the vaudeville programme contains what 
is known as a talking or acting team ; two men, two 
women, or a man and a woman, generally gro- 
tesquely dressed, and who may or may not add 
dancing to their parts. They carry on a dialogue, 
always humorous (or of an alleged humor). 
There is no plot involved. 

The foregoing plays, if I may call them such, 
are not technically known as " legitimate." " Le- 
gitimate " is hardly the word, but I use it because 
it is a stage term. 

So-called legitimate plays are of several kinds: 
first, the farcical comedy, which is nonsensical from 
start to finish, has little or no real plot, and is 
usually without consistency. It is, as a matter of 
fact, a form of continuous vaudeville, with just 
enough plot for excuse to hold it together. It is 
supposed to be humorous throughout, and every 
spoken word is intended to represent wit or sar- 
casm. If there are any sober characters, they are 
used as a background for frivolity. 

Many of these plays are written especially for 
one actor or actress, so as to bring out their par- 
ticular mannerisms and exceptional capabilities. 



PLAY WRITING 69 

These farcial comedies are usually produced with 
a large number of supernumeraries, — men and 
women who dance and perform other antics, and 
who are dressed in spectacular costumes. 

The extravaganza is not far removed in quality, 
or in substance, from the farcial comedy, except 
that it is more extreme, is more elaborately staged, 
and is allowed more license. Its spoken lines may 
rhyme. It is likely to present hardly the sem- 
blance of a plot. The action runs riot, and the 
actors run amuck. Some singing is introduced, 
but the success of the thing (I label it " thing " 
because it can hardly be called a play), is due al- 
most entirely to the eccentric acting of the lead- 
ing characters, to the costuming, and to an expo- 
sure of anatomy, principally of the hosiery end of 
women. 

Of course, the farcical comedy and extravaganza 
have to have playwrights, who must be proficient 
in erratic originality, and be able to produce sit- 
uations rather than commendable dialogue. 

The musical comedy and comic opera are some- 
what synonymous. Most of the spoken words are 
presented in song, usually with considerable spec- 



70 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

tacular effects, including the ballet. Some of them 
are genuine works of the highest art, with music 
which will not offend the ear of the masters of 
music. 

The Gilbert and Sullivan operas represent a dis- 
tinct class of stage production, and they have con- 
tributed enormously to the pleasure of the people. 
There are others as good, or nearly so; but the 
majority of the so-called musical comedies, or 
comic operas, are merely vaudeville shows, strung 
out, and elaborated with music which should out- 
rage the taste of an intelligent audience ; yet they 
succeed, because they are eye-pleasing, and be- 
cause they have a swing and a go which gratifies 
the public taste. The excuse for their existence 
may be in the remark of the great composer who 
said that all music is music. 

The regular comedy is a play of two, three, 
four, or five acts, with as many or more scenes, 
and which is half-serious and half-light, with in- 
terjections of wit and humor. It is not intended 
to be heavy. The spoken words are conversation- 
ally brilliant and up-to-date, and the situations 
change rapidly. There is a distinct plot, which is 



PLAY WRITING 71 

worked out to a climax. The villain is introduced, 
and the hero gets the better of him frequently, — 
at any rate, before the play closes. Dancing and 
spectacular scenes are not introduced, except occa- 
sionally, and then in a subordinate way. 

The average comedy has at least six speaking 
parts, and sometimes double that number; and 
many of them are the work of master playwrights. 
They are, commercially speaking, the most suc- 
cessful plays. 

The plot is not particularly intense, but the 
action and situations are, at least, apparently 
natural. 

The villain, if there be one, sustains the second, 
third, or fourth part in relative importance, al- 
though he sometimes ranks with the leading man. 

Many of these comedies are society plays, and 
quite a number of them present country and farm- 
life conditions. 

What is known as the melodrama is a play of 
great intensity, with harrowing situations, several 
hair-breadth escapes, and a strong plot. The hero 
and heroine invariably meet with disaster, and this 
condition prevails until the close of the play. 



72 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

There are introduced one or more villains of the 
deepest dye, whose business it is to ruin the hero, 
or heroine, or both of them. Virtue is placed upon 
a pedestal and surrounded with the white clouds of 
purity ; the villain is in evening dress, and, for a 
while, remains unscorched by the fire of retribu- 
tion ; but the fire is there, although it is for stage 
purposes kept from premature bursting. 

Firearms play important parts. The hero or 
the heroine is probably close to death or capture 
once or several times during the play. The vil- 
lain is usually master of the situation until the last 
act, and often until the very close of the play, 
when he commits suicide, or meets with a violent 
death, or is arrested, and the curtain goes down 
with the hero and heroine clasped in each other's 
arms, the mother-in-law reconciled, and the vil- 
lain either dead, dying, or handcuffed to an officer 
who is about to incarcerate him. 

Usually this play has a streak of comedy run- 
ning through it, with one or more characters enliv- 
ening the scenes and introducing more or less fun; 
but as a whole it is intense. 

It is said that one writer of this class of plays 



PLAY WRITING 73 

has accumulated more than a million dollars, al- 
though most of his productions were presented at 
second-class theaters and in the small country 
towns. His leading characters always represent 
abject poverty, and have to struggle to keep soul 
and body from separation. The leading actor sus- 
tains, or, rather, assumes, the part of a farmer, a 
laborer, or sailor, or that of an underpaid under- 
clerk. The leading actress portrays, or attempts 
to, the character of a maid, a salesgirl, or poor 
seamstress, who is attractive physically if not men- 
tally. The hero is a modern Adonis, but never 
dressed like one; at any rate not until the last 
scene of the last act. 

The villain is always bold, bad, and terrible, and 
wants to marry the heroine. In order to get rid 
of the hero, who is virtue personified, he plots his 
ruin or death. He may throw him overboard or 
attempt to have him cut up with a buzz-saw. He 
may plan a defalcation, which involves the hero. 
He may have him discharged and bring him to the 
verge of starvation. He may imprison the girl, 
or hold her in some den, her promise to marry him 
being her key to freedom. Although the hero may 



74 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

occasionally thwart him, the villain continues to be 
the winner until the final curtain is about to de- 
scend. 

The play always works out to the complete sat- 
isfaction of the hero and heroine, and to the au- 
dience. With one crash, the villain is suppressed 
and virtue is surrounded with rainbows. The 
stormy clouds, no matter how black, are sun-kissed 
at the close. 

Habitual attendants of theaters will remember 
the old lines spoken by the poor mother, who rushes 
upon the stage with disheveled hair and calico 
dress, and screams at the top of her voice, " My 
child, my child, who will save my child? " The vil- 
lain has pursued, and may grab her child; then, 
with a burst from the orchestra, — the drum in 
tremendous evidence, — the hero rushes upon the 
stage, and with one blow knocks the villain to the 
ground, even though he possesses the physique of 
a pugilist, and the hero has the face and frame of 
a consumptive. 

Exaggeration to the limit of the possible is per- 
missible. But is there such a word as exaggera- 
tion in the dictionary of life? Often we discover 



PLAY WRITING 75 

deeper pits and more terrible anguish in life than 
the mind of man, even that of the melodrama 
maker, can conceive, or the pen can place upon 
paper. 

The success of the melodrama is largely due to 
the fact that in it virtue gets its reward, and gets 
it quickly, and things turn out as they should, but 
do not, always, in the action of reality. 

There are, however, several melodramas upon 
the boards which are of the highest grade, and 
portray the tragic side of real life consistently and 
vividly. 

Tragedy is not a frequenter of the modern stage, 
with the exception of those written by Shakes- 
peare and by other great masters. It is likely to 
be founded upon some historical event, and its char- 
acters may represent those who have lived, or they 
may be created by the playwright. Battle scenes 
are often reproduced, and kings, queens, and other 
rulers play prominent parts. There may be an 
arena for the slaughter of the innocent. The pop- 
ulists may rise against the government. Little or 
no comedy is introduced, and only an occasional 
laugh or smile is aroused. The presentation of 



76 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

these plays usually requires a large number of su- 
pernumeraries, — soldiers, sailors, savages, war- 
riors, and the inevitable mob. Probably the great- 
est play ever written, other than those of Shakes- 
peare, and even rivaling Shakespeare, is of this 
class, and is very near to being historically cor- 
rect. 

The problem play is an important modern form 
of the drama. During the last few years there 
has been introduced upon the stage a class of 
plays, known as problem plays, which are supposed 
to be used by the author for the vivid solution of 
some psychological or other problem, usually one 
which is close to the public eye. Capital and labor 
are allowed to clash, and the divorce question is 
much in evidence. 

Unfortunately, some of the problem plays are 
essentially immoral or unmoral, and are given as 
an excuse for the presentation of uncontrolled pas- 
sion. They create the suspicion that the play- 
wright did not produce them for any motive ex- 
cept a financial one. It is a fact that the average 
father and mother will allow their children to view, 
from the auditorium, scenes which they would make 



PLAY WRITING 77 

every effort to keep them from meeting with upon 
the street. 

I heartily welcome the portrayal of sin, and even 
of many things which Mrs. Grundy would call 
" improper," if there is a moral and uplifting ob- 
ject back of them. 

Nevertheless, in common with others who would 
uplift the stage and make it one of civilization's 
greatest educators, I am opposed to the presence 
of respectably dressed sin. 

Many other classes of plays depend upon their 
immoral coloring for success. But let me say 
here, and emphatically, that no play ever met with 
more than transient success, or added any real 
reputation to its writer, unless it was either pure in 
tone or pictured vice that it might the better pre- 
sent virtue. 

The would-be playwright, unless familiar with 
the stage, not only from the auditorium, but from 
behind the scenes, should not attempt to produce 
a play until he has become conversant with stage 
craft, and been in close contact with actors and 
actresses, that he may learn their ways, and what 
can and cannot be presented in play form. He 



78 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

should spend considerable time on the stage itself, 
although he need not take part in the play. He 
should be familiar with scenery, and with the 
handling of it. He should read most carefully 
printed plays, and, if possible, the manuscript of 
plays which are not published. He should prac- 
tice the writing of conversations and dialogues; 
and he must, by experience, learn how to make his 
dialogue largely self-explanatory, to handle his 
story by spoken word, not by written explanation. 

Most performances begin at eight o'clock and 
end at ten-thirty o'clock, and the action of the 
play, which is to occupy the entire evening, must 
contain sufficient dialogue to sustain it for about 
two and a half hours, deducting, of course, the be- 
tween-acts periods, which will consume from fif- 
teen to twenty minutes, if the play has as many as 
three acts. 

When a play is accepted, the theatrical man- 
ager sends for the playwright, or communicates 
with him by mail, and suggests additions, omis- 
sions, or changes. Comparatively few plays are 
presented as originally written. Even if the play 



PLAY WRITING 79 

has decided merit, it may be too long or too short 
in parts, or it may need other revision. These 
changes are made by the writer of it, with the as- 
sistance of the theatrical manager or stage man- 
ager, or the leading actor or actress, who will ap- 
pear in it. It is then placed in rehearsal, and the 
playwright invited to be present. The rehearsal 
is held with a darkened auditorium, but upon a 
lighted stage, usually without scenery. The ac- 
tors and actresses are in street costume, and begin 
by merely repeating lines. Later, a full-dress re- 
hearsal is given, when the play is presented ex- 
actly as it will be before an audience. 

Most plays are first presented in some pro- 
vincial city or town, where they may be " tried upon 
the dog," if I may speak in theatrical vernacular. 

Several changes may be necessary after a dress 
rehearsal, and these revisions may continue for a 
week or more, or even after the play has been 
staged in the theater of a large city. 

The stage manager has the play typewritten 
into parts, one for each actor, but no one actor 
has the entire manuscript. 



80 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Let us suppose that the actor bears the name of 
" Smith." The manuscript he receives reads 
something as follows: 

" Jones : ' Hark, I hear a gun.' " The forego- 
ing line is spoken by the one who precedes Smith. 
This is his cue, and he begins to speak his al- 
lotted lines as soon as Jones has said " gun." He 
then waits for another cue, and proceeds. 

He remains in his dressing-room, or what is 
known as the green room, which is located under 
or at the side of the stage, until a few minutes be- 
fore his entrance. The call-boy notifies him that 
it is about time for him to appear. He steps be- 
hind the scenes, and waits for his cue. 

No inexperienced playwright should present his 
play to the buyers of plays, until it has been read 
by one or more skillful dramatic editors or compe- 
tent actors. If they approve of it, he should then 
send it to a theatrical manager, or place it in the 
hands of some dramatic agency. I would advise 
him, however, to present his play direct to the 
dramatic manager before employing an agency, 
for the latter demands a percentage, which the 
playwright should avoid, if possible. 



PLAY WRITING 81 

The chances are the play will be rejected sev- 
eral times before accepted, if it is accepted at all. 

The play is copyrighted, either by the manager, 
who handles it, or by the playwright himself, the 
copyright fee being only one dollar. 

Comparatively few successful plays remain in 
any one theater for more than a few months at a 
time. They go on the road, — eventually, any- 
way. 

The playwright receives his remuneration in one 
of the following ways : First, the theatrical man- 
ager buys it outright. Secondly, he gives the au- 
thor a sum agreed upon, with a small royalty. 
Thirdly, the playwright receives a royalty only; 
and these terms usually prevail. The royalty is 
usually based upon the gate receipts, from which 
the expense of production and the cost of running 
the play may or may not be deducted. 

The owner of the play frequently sells playing 
rights, or allows certain companies to present it 
throughout the country, in which case the author 
shares the income with him. 

As the price paid varies so much, I do not care 
to present definite figures. The author may be 



83 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

paid a hundred dollars, or several thousand dol- 
lars, for the play outright, or he may receive a 
gate-receipt royalty. 

To sum up, let me say emphatically that play 
writing is not likely to be successful, unless the 
writer has a strong imagination, and is proficient 
in creating situations and climaxes. Further, he 
is not likely to succeed unless he has experienced 
stage craft. He must have sufficient literary 
ability properly to write out his dialogue or con- 
versation. He must understand men and things 
sufficiently well to present them upon the stage, 
vividly, realistically, or in caricature. Unless he 
proposes to devote his time to the writing of 
tragedies, dramas, or melodramas, he must have a 
keen sense of humor. 

Quite a number of successful plays have been 
taken from published works of fiction, or from his- 
torical novels, in which case the playwright adapts 
the work to stage purposes; but if he is not the 
author, he must obtain the author's consent, and 
share with him in the profit. 

The plot and characters in the book may be fol- 
lowed closely, or departures made from them. If 



PLAY WRITING 83 

the book has been a great seller, the play is more 
likely to be successful than it would have been if 
it had not been published in book form. 

Comparatively little in the book can be repro- 
duced literally upon the stage. The dialogues 
and conversations need to be altered and adapted 
to stage presentation. 



CHAPTER XII 
Motion-Picture Plays 

THE epidemic growth of the moving-picture 
play has opened a field for the cultivation of 
what may be considered a new department of lit- 
erature, or, rather, of what is in a way allied to 
it. 

It is said that a hundred million dollars are in- 
vested in the motion-picture business. There is 
hardly a town of any size, from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, or from Winnipeg to the Gulf of Mexico, 
which does not support one or two moving-pic- 
ture houses. 

The admission is usually ten cents, occasionally 
as much as twenty cents being demanded at the 
door. 

The motion-picture play is produced by con- 
cerns of enormous capital, who send their agents 
or photographers all over the world, to the African 

jungle and to the frozen regions of the North. 

84 



MOTION-PICTURE PLAYS 85 

Although the majority of scenes are produced in 
the picture-making theater, at times, however, the 
whole or a part of the action occurs out of doors. 
The camera can be stopped at any moment, and 
the action may be in a dozen places, if need be. 

The motion-picture play-maker employs a num- 
ber of competent actors, who comprise his stock 
company, and often engages those of international 
reputation. Several rehearsals are held, that the 
actors may become familiar with the play before it 
is finally photographed. As a rule, the actors 
speak their parts, that their work may be realistic. 

The playwright may or may not write in the 
dialogue, but it is better for him to do so; but he 
must present the plot and outlines of the situa- 
tions, and designate the characters and their cos- 
tumes. He is further required to indicate what 
they are to do and say, but he may not put the 
words to be spoken into their mouths. 

It is obvious that there must be rapid action, 
and that the play must be so constructed as to be 
self-explanatory by action, as there are no spoken 
words. It is probable, however, that a combina- 
tion of camera and talking-machine will soon be 



86 THE ART OF STORY WHITING 

introduced, which will require as much attention to 
the dialogue as to the action of the play. 

The writers of moving-picture plays receive 
from twenty-five to a hundred dollars for a so- 
called plot. 

While an intimate knowledge of stage craft is 
unnecessary to the framing of a moving-picture 
play, the author will find that a familiarity with 
dramatic conditions will be of much benefit to him. 



CHAPTER XIII 

The Name of a Book or Story 

ONE of America's most successful and exten- 
sive publishers, and a man who is familiar, 
from experience, with every department of book 
publishing, and especially expert in the handling 
and selling of books, recently told me that it was 
as difficult to get a good title for a book as it 
was to obtain a good manuscript of a book. 

Thousands of books owe a proportion of their 
success to their titles, and many a one has failed, 
or has met with an indifferent success, partly be- 
cause an inappropriate or unsuitable title was 
selected for it. 

The author, rather than the publisher, may as- 
sume the right to designate the title ; but he should 
not insist upon one, no matter how strongly it 
may appeal to him, if his publisher objects to it. 
He should counsel with his publisher, and in case 

87 



88 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

of disagreement allow the publisher to select the 
title. 

The shorter the title, the better, provided it 
properly describes the book itself. A short title 
lends itself to the cover, and assists in making the 
appearance of the book more presentable. It is 
easier for the buyer to remember, and allows in- 
creased opportunity for effective advertising. 

A long title injures the appearance of the cover 
of a book. 

It is obvious that a short and appropriate title 
is far more difficult to obtain, than is one contain- 
ing several words, which is, in itself, a description 
of the book. 

Take the title of " The Pit," for example. A 
better name for the story could not have been pro- 
cured. Not only did it lend itself typographically 
to the cover, but it was descriptive, easy to re- 
member, easy to call for, and of striking appear- 
ance. 

Let us suppose that the author had chosen a 
title like, " The Success and Failures of John T. 
Smith, Broker." While this title would have been 
appropriate, it is altogether too long, would not 



THE NAME OF A BOOK OR STORY 89 

have been remembered, and would have, undoubt- 
edly, handicapped the sale of the book. 

Many successful books have borne the names 
of their leading characters ; like " Jane Bancroft," 
" John Hubbard, 55 " Jones of Boston, 55 or " Smith 
of Middlesex 55 ; or short descriptive titles, like 
" A Country Minister, 55 " The Confession of a 
Banker, 55 or " The Story of a Bachelor. 55 

There is no objection to beginning a title with 
some word like " How, 55 if the book gives informa- 
tion ; as, " How to Eat,' 5 " What to Eat, 55 " How 
to Travel, 55 " How to Sell, 55 " How to Buy, 55 or 
" How to Cook. 55 

Queer names, if hard to pronounce, should never 
be used. The buyer of a book should not be sub- 
jected to the annoyance of being unable properly 
to pronounce the title of the book he calls for. 

The best way to proceed is to give your manu- 
script a proper title, no matter how long or short 
it may be. Then, after consultation with your 
friends, write out a number of titles, good, bad, 
and indifferent, — the more, the better. Even an 
inappropriate or silly title may lead to an accept- 
able one. Work over them and study them. 



90 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Place the best title, according to your judgment, 
on your manuscript, and enclose with your manu- 
script a slip upon which are written other titles. 
Do not fail to consult with your publisher. He 
is as much interested as you are in the success of 
the book. Do not be obstinate or arbitrary. 

The printed forms of some contracts contain 
this clause, " Or any other title which may be de- 
cided upon." You have plenty of time, because 
it is not necessary to decide definitely upon the 
title until you have received the galley proofs, but 
it must be chosen before the page proofs are made, 
as the title of the book is usually placed on every 
other page. 



CHAPTER XIV 

Literary Schools 

THERE have been established various schools, 
or institutions, which claim to be able to teach 
the art of literature. Some of these are con- 
ducted on the correspondence plan. 

I think that it is exceedingly doubtful if any one 
can obtain a working knowledge of the art from 
any school, and especially from a correspondence 
course. 

Contact with literary workers and with the pub- 
lic at large, and the reading of good books repre- 
senting successful literary styles, will do more, I 
believe, to aid the would-be litterateur, than can 
any so-called institution, though alleged to be able 
to teach the art. 

I am afraid that some of these literary insti- 
tutions were established for revenue only, and are 
purely commercial enterprises. Their claims look 

well upon paper, but I think that few of them 

91 



92 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

can be substantiated. I do not see how any one 
can learn to write, as he would learn book-keeping, 
or stenography, or arithmetic, or geography, or 
any other concrete art or science. 

So much depends upon contact with conditions 
and persons, and upon the special ability of the 
would-be writer, that it is extremely doubtful if the 
art of authorship can be imparted academically. 
Nor does it seem to me probable that much of any- 
thing worth while can be given by mail. 

The literary correspondence school, like other 
correspondence schools, depends for its profits upon 
a large number of pupils. It seems to me obvious 
that little personal attention can be given to any 
one member at the fee charged for enrollment. 
Therefore, I am constrained to believe that the 
service rendered by most correspondence schools is 
largely automatic, and that the pupil can obtain 
as much from a good book or books, and very much 
more by contact with those of the craft. 

Instead of connecting one's self with a school, I 
would advise the would-be writer to read everything 
written upon the subject, of course, taking into 
consideration that most books upon literature rep- 



LITERARY SCHOOLS 93 

resent the personal opinions of their writers, 
which may be overdrawn and biased ; but from sev- 
eral books, if read intelligently and discriminately, 
the reader may obtain a general insight into lit- 
erary matters, and into the construction of litera- 
ture, which will be of benefit to him. 

I would advise him, however, to read these books, 
and all other books, with the cooperation or as- 
sistance of one or more men or women who have 
won literary reputations. By contact, both with 
books and with those who make books, he may, if 
he will, obtain a fair grasp upon the situation. 

Then, he must learn to write by writing; he 
must practice while he is studying. His first ef- 
forts may amount to little, but if each one shows 
some improvement over its predecessors, he may, 
in time, obtain result. Under no circumstances 
should he attempt to learn how to write as he 
would master the multiplication table or history. 
It is impossible to become an author by rule, or by 
following blindly any regulations which may be for- 
mulated by those who think they can teach the un- 
teachable. 



CHAPTER XV 

Literary Agencies or Bureaus 

IN many of the general magazines, and in some 
of the periodicals, appear advertisements of 
literary agencies or bureaus, which claim to be able 
to sell manuscripts to the author's advantage and 
to have special facilities for revision. Connected 
with these agencies are one or more literary men 
or women, usually with some reputation. 

I would advise the writer or owner of a manu- 
script to have absolutely nothing to do with any 
of these agencies or bureaus, unless they are rec- 
ommended to him by some reputable book pub- 
lisher or editor of high standing. 

If the advertisement of one of the agencies 

seems alluring, send it to some first-class book 

publisher or editor and ask him to advise you about 

it. If you are in doubt, consult the editor of a 

reputable newspaper, a literary man of standing, 

or an editor of one of the great magazines. These 
94 



LITERARY AGENCIES OR BUREAUS 95 

parties would speak favorably only of agencies of 
the highest standing. 

Some of those literary agencies, I believe, are 
nothing more or less than traps, set to catch the 
author. Their announcements appear to be fair 
and honest, and they particularly request the au- 
thor to forward his manuscript. On receipt of 
it, it is quite likely that they will suggest that it be 
revised, or copied, which the agency will be pleased 
to do at a price named. If the manuscript has 
merit, the agency may place it with some pub- 
lisher, in which case the author has to give the 
agency a part of his receipts. 

I am of the opinion that the author will be as 
well, or better, off if he communicates direct with 
the publishers and not through an agency. True, 
the agency may be better informed of the require- 
ments of the book publishers, and it may know 
better than the author does just which publisher 
would be likely to take it. Rut if it succeeds, the 
author must pay handsomely for its trouble. 

If the author is unfamiliar with book publishers, 
and does not know their requirements, and, there- 
fore, is not in a position to know to which pub- 



96 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

lisher he had better send his manuscript, I sug- 
gest that he consult with some literary man or 
editor of standing, who will probably be able to 
give him better advice than he will be likely to re- 
ceive from any literary bureau, and this advice 
he will obtain without expense. Or, let him write 
to a few book publishers, giving a synopsis of his 
manuscript, and ask each if that particular plot 
interests him. In this way it is probable that he 
will obtain the information he desires. 

Then, as to revision, I think he will obtain a 
better result, and at a lower price, if he employs 
some literary man in his town or city, or takes up 
the matter with some one at a distance. If he is 
in doubt, any editor can help him. 

Revision is not difficult to do. If the story is 
wholly unmarketable, no amount of revision will 
help it. If it is about right, revision may make 
it all right. But I think that any good literary 
man or woman is likely to give the author more 
efficient service than he would probably obtain from 
any agency or bureau. 

Many a school teacher has a good command of 
language, and can be of great assistance to the 



LITERARY AGENCIES OR BUREAUS 97 

author. I would not, then, particularly recom- 
mend the literary bureau or agency, although 
some of them are furnishing good service. I think 
that the author can obtain all, or more than, they 
can give, by placing his manuscript in the hands 
of some well-educated man or woman for correc- 
tion and revision, and that any good book 
publisher or literary editor will determine the 
marketability of the manuscript as readily as can 
any literary bureau official. 

Unless the author is busy, he had better recopy 
his manuscript himself. If there is need for out- 
side help for copying, any competent typewritist 
will do the work for him at a fair price. 



CHAPTER XVI 

The Preparation of a Manuscript 

UNDER another heading I have suggested the 
size and quality of the paper to be used. 

All manuscripts should be written on the type- 
writer, and ruled paper should not be used, un- 
less the manuscript is hand-written. 

Many book publishers will not consider a pen- 
written manuscript, and the majority of periodi- 
cals and newspapers, other than country news- 
papers, will refuse to read a manuscript which is 
not typewritten. 

If you do not own a typewriter and do not feel 
that you can afford to purchase one, you may rent 
a fairly good machine as low as five dollars for 
three months. The standard typewriters cost ap- 
proximately one hundred dollars, but there are sev- 
eral machines on the market which can be had for 

much less, and which answer the purpose. 

98 



PREPARATION OF A MANUSCRIPT 99 

A typewriter with visible writing is to be pre- 
ferred to others. 

Use a black, or blue-black, or dark blue, or dark 
green ink, and under no circumstances a purple, a 
yellow, or any other color. Black, or blue-black, 
is preferable. 

There should be a margin of at least one inch 
at the top, bottom, and sides. 

Under no circumstances write on more than one 
side of the sheet. 

Single or narrow space between lines is an 
abomination. The lines of all manuscript should 
be double spaced. 

Unless your paragraphs are plainly indicated, 
precede them with a paragraph mark. Should 
you, however, desire to add paragraphs after the 
manuscript is written, there is no need of rewrit- 
ing ; simply write in paragraph marks. Should a 
paragraph appear in a manuscript, which, after 
consideration, you desire to have set not as a para- 
graph, mark in front of it the word " No," fol- 
lowed by the paragraph mark, or the words " Run 
in." 

Be very careful with your spelling, particularly 



100 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

of proper names and of technical terms, for the 
editor and publisher will hold you responsible for 
all spelling, except of common words, and he may 
demand that all words and terms be correctly 
spelled. 

Do not write more than one or two words at a 
time between the lines, and better avoid doing this 
altogether, as interlining confuses the reader and 
compositor. It is better to cross out wrong or 
misspelled words and write them on the same line, 
than it is to interline them. 

Avoid, as far as possible, writing in the mar- 
gins. If you make many changes on any page of 
your manuscript, better rewrite it, even if it does 
not make your page come out even, or carries the 
matter over to another page. 

While it is desirable to have about the same 
number of words upon each page, there is no need 
of rewriting the page or pages to produce this 
result, so long as your matter is not discon- 
nected. 

Every publisher of books, or of periodicals and 
newspapers, maintains a style of his own as regards 
paragraphing, spelling, and punctuation, and he 



PREPARATION OF A MANUSCRIPT 101 

will set the manuscript according to his system, 
unless it be one of a technical character. 

Unless you know the style prevailing in the pub- 
lisher's office, or in the magazine or newspaper of- 
fice, paragraph, punctuate, and spell according 
to your system, if it is one of the standards, and be 
consistent. The editor will make changes, if he 
desires to do so; but you should not consider this 
an excuse for careless paragraphing, punctuation, 
or spelling. 

Write in your chapters and chapter headings, 
and if, for any reason, you desire to have any 
part of the book set in smaller type than that used, 
for the body, indicate it by writing " Small type " 
at the side of the paragraph. 

Draw one line under all lines you desire to have 
set in italics, two lines under those to be set in 
small capitals, and three lines under those to be set 
in capitals. 

If your book contains dialogue, be very careful 
to use quotation marks, and to have a separate 
paragraph for what each person says, using more 
than one paragraph if the spoken words occupy 
over a dozen lines. 



102 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Number each page with figures, — 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., 
— and write them in the upper right-hand corner. 

It is not necessary to repeat the chapter head- 
ings on the manuscript. 

If, after the manuscript is completed, you desire 
to insert one or more pages, write in the upper 
left-hand corner, " 46-B," " 46-C," etc., and then 
insert them in the proper place. For example: 
let us suppose that you desire to insert three pages 
between pages 46 and 47. It is not necessary for 
you to repage the entire manuscript ; simply write 
" A " after 46 on page 46, and then write " 46-B," 
" 46-C," and " 46-D," respectively on the inserted 
pages ; and on page " 46-D " write, " Next page 
47." This will assure the editor and compositor 
that no page has been omitted. If you remove a 
page, say page 62, write in the upper left-hand 
corner of the page following the omitted page, 
" No page 62." 

Your manuscript numbers should run consecu- 
tively, and you should not write in the margin of 
any page, " Insert paragraph marked 1," or 
" Paragraph marked A." Have these insertions 
come in regular order, even if by so doing, some of 



PREPARATION OF A MANUSCRIPT 103 

the pages will contain an uneven amount of mat- 
ter. 

In another chapter I have told you how to esti- 
mate the number of words or length of a manu- 
script, and how to give this information to the 
editor or publisher. 

Begin every chapter on a new page. 

Underline all foreign words, like " prima facie," 
so they may be set in italics. 

A good way to prepare a manuscript, which, if 
you are a ready writer, will save you much time 
and trouble, and the expense of copying more than 
a part of it, is to write the matter on paper eight 
and a half by eleven inches, and then paste the 
written sheets upon paper about eleven inches from 
right to left and twelve and a half inches from 
top to bottom, these larger sheets to be paged. 
On these larger sheets allow a wider margin on the 
left than at the top, bottom, and right. By this 
method you can easily insert additions and revi- 
sions, and yet your manuscript will read smoothly. 

Let us suppose, for example, that after your 
manuscript is written, you wish to insert consider- 
able matter in certain places. You will then cut up 



104 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

the pages written upon, and paste the pages, or 
parts of them, where they belong on the larger 
sheets. 

Practically all manuscripts are subjected to ad- 
ditions, omissions, and revision. By following 
this method, you will have to rewrite only that 
part of the matter which needs changes, and you 
can add or omit as you please. 

After pasting the manuscript pages upon the 
large sheets, press them out smoothly by placing 
large books upon them. 

While this method does not present as hand- 
some a manuscript, it is acceptable to every editor 
and publisher, for they care nothing about the 
appearance of the manuscript, if it is on paper 
of sufficient strength and suitable size, and reads 
smoothly, with no disconnections. 

If the margin is sufficiently wide at the left, you 
can, if you desire, fasten your manuscript together 
by punching holes in the left margin and insert- 
ing strings through the holes, but this is not neces- 
sary. 

A very acceptable and good form of manuscript 
is to bind it into portable covers, similar to those 



PREPARATION OF A MANUSCRIPT 105 

used for loose-leaf ledgers. These covers, and the 
perforated pages to fit them, may be purchased 
at any large stationer, and they are not expensive. 
This method keeps the manuscript in good shape, 
and it is not likely to be mutilated or soiled by the 
editor or reader of it. Of course, it will be de- 
tached from the covers when given to the composi- 
tor. If you use this form, number your pages as 
you would in a loose manuscript. 

The author should accompany his manuscript 
with a title-page, and allow one page for the copy- 
right line. 

He should, as a rule, present his table of con- 
tents, and the index, if the book is to be indexed. 
He should not, however, write in the page numbers 
on either of the manuscript pages of the contents 
or index, because the correct numbers cannot be 
ascertained until the book is set and page proofs 
taken. 

Some years ago, publishers of high-class books 
made a requirement that every chapter should be- 
gin on a right-hand page, but this condition no 
longer prevails. However, the author cannot an- 
ticipate it, as he does not know, until he receives 



106 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

proofs, where the pages will begin, nor does he 
know whether or not the ending of any chapter 
will fill a page or occupy only a part of it. The 
last page of a chapter in a book, however, should 
not contain less than six type lines. 

If the manuscript, when paged-up, runs from 
one to five lines over full pages, the publisher usu- 
ally requests the author to add to the proof a 
sufficient number of words to make the last page 
of the chapter contain at least six lines; or the 
author may omit a sufficient number of lines from 
the chapter itself, so that it will not run over into 
the following page. 

These omissions and additions are usually made 
after the page proofs are furnished, but if the 
author knows the number of lines to a page, he can 
anticipate them, and make them on the galley 
proofs. As this running over is not the fault of 
the author, it is not usually charged as author's 
corrections when it occurs. 

If you add pages, the number written on the 
last page will not represent the exact number of 
pages in the manuscript; then on the last page 
write something as follows : " 360 pages, 5 ' which 



PREPARATION OF A MANUSCRIPT 107 

number must include the inserted pages. If you 
do not do this, and have inserted many pages, the 
manuscript would appear to contain less pages 
than it actually does. 

While the public or reader never sees a manu- 
script, the better the manuscript, all things being 
equal, the more likehood of its being accepted. 



CHAPTER XVII 

Manuscript Paper 

THE best paper for manuscripts, either for 
books or for magazines or newspaper articles, 
should be quite thin, but never as thin as tissue 
paper, and of the stock commercially known as 
bond, which is tough and strong, and does not easily 
tear in the typewriter or when handled. If thick 
paper is used, it will be difficult to make carbon 
copies, and they are likely to be indistinct. 

Manuscript paper should never be larger than 
eight and one-half inches from right to left, and 
eleven inches from top to bottom. This size is 
standard. It should not be smaller than six inches 
from right to left, or eight inches from top to 
bottom. 

White is acceptable, but some light tint, like 
light yellow, light gray, light buff, light orange, 
or light blue is preferable to white, because a tint 
or light color is easier on the eye. 
108 



MANUSCRIPT PAPER 109 

Good bond paper can be obtained from seven to 
twelve cents per pound, and it should be of a 
thickness known in the trade as from sixteen to 
twenty pounds to the ream. The paper is 
made in sheets which may be cut up into four 
sheets eight and one-half by eleven inches without 
waste. A ream of this paper, — and a ream is 
usually five hundred, instead of four hundred and 
eighty, sheets, — will cut up into two thousand 
sheets of standard size. The cost, then, of a 
thousand sheets of manuscript paper of standard 
size, and of the twenty-pound weight, at seven 
cents per pound, would be seventy cents. 

I have covered other details of manuscript paper 
in the chapter headed " The Preparation of a 
Manuscript." 

Do not use a ruled paper, unless your manu- 
script is hand-written. 

Avoid a paper with a surface which will not 
permit the use of pen and ink, because the editor 
or reader may desire to make corrections upon 
the manuscript, and if the paper is soft and 
spongy the ink from the pen will blur upon it. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

Copying Manuscript 

ALL manuscripts, if of any importance, should 
be copied by the author, and the copies 
should be kept away from the original manuscript, 
so that there will be a copy remaining in case of 
the loss or destruction of the original manuscript 
or of the copy itself. It is not likely that both, if 
kept in separate places, will meet with loss or de- 
struction. 

Publishers do not hold themselves responsible for 
the loss of, or damage to, a manuscript, although 
they usually take good care of them. If a pub- 
lisher loses or damages a manuscript, the author 
has no redress. 

Copies of manuscripts may be made in the fol- 
lowing ways : 

First, when done on the tyepwriter, a carbon 
sheet is inserted between the regular manuscript 
110 



COPYING MANUSCRIPT 111 

paper and another sheet of the same kind of paper 
or of thinner stock. Care should be taken not to 
use worn carbon paper, as the copies should be 
nearly as distinct as the original, and sufficiently 
good to take the place of the original manuscript 
if it is lost. But in this case, I would advise a re- 
copying of the copy. If thin paper is used, two 
or three carbon copies may be made, but one is 
usually sufficient. A record, and not a copying 
ribbon, should be used on the typewriter. 

Secondly, copies of manuscripts, either type- 
written with a copying ribbon or written with a 
pen and copying ink, may be produced by the wet 
or damp process of copying; that is, by placing 
next to each page of the manuscript a sheet of tis- 
sue paper, on the top of which is a damp cloth, and 
pressing with a copying press, or with very heavy 
weights. The process, however, blurs both the 
manuscript and the copy of it. 

Thirdly, a pencil or indelible pencil may be used 
for the writing of the manuscript, and a sheet of 
carbon paper placed between it and another sheet, 
but the work of the pencil is to be discouraged, ex- 
cept for making drafts or outlines. 



im THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Changes made on the original manuscript should 
be duplicated upon the copy. 

To save time, it is suggested that the eraser be 
not used. Cross out misspelled words or other er- 
rors, by running x's or lines through them, and 
continuing as though the mistakes had not oc- 
curred. By doing this, alteration will not have to 
be made with pen or pencil upon the copies. 

The editor, reader, or compositor does not ob- 
ject to these obliterations, if there are not too 
many of them, and the manuscript reads smoothly. 



CHAPTER XIX 

The Number of Words in a Manuscript 

IT is advisable, and sometimes necessary, to in- 
dicate on the manuscript, preferably upon the 
first page of it, approximately the number of 
words it contains. 

Although the number of words to the page vary, 
it is easy to strike an average, which is not likely 
to be more than five per cent out of the way. 

The author should count the number of words 
appearing on at least a dozen pages, the pages not 
to be selected consecutively. Add these numbers 
together and divide by the number of pages 
counted, and multiply the result by the total num- 
ber of pages. 

A better way, and a more correct one, is to 
count the number of words contained in from fifty 
to a hundred lines; then add them together and 
divide them by the number of lines counted ; multi- 
ply this number by the number of lines in the 
113 



114 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

manuscript. The result is likely to be more close 
to the correct number, unless the author has writ- 
ten with a pen several lines between the typewrit- 
ten sections, as it is obvious that pen-written lines 
are likely to contain less words than the typewrit- 
ten lines. 

After the number of words has been ascertained, 
write in the left-hand corner of the first page of 
the manuscript, the number of words which it con- 
tains. This should be done, not only with book 
manuscripts, but with those of short stories and 
articles. 



CHAPTER XX 

Revising Manuscripts 

NO author or writer, however conversant with 
literature he may be, or trained in manu- 
script reading or editing, even though he may be 
an expert in English composition, can read or re- 
vise his own manuscript, with the certainty of ob- 
taining a clean or perfect result. 

It has been said, and with some degree of truth, 
that the better the writer, the poorer he may be 
as a manuscript and proof-reader of his own work, 
because he is very likely to carry his written words 
in his mind as well as to have them upon paper; 
and he cannot, therefore, read his manuscript as 
intently, or as critically, as may one who has no 
interest in it. 

So far as I know, no manuscript of any length 
has ever been free from grammatical and other 
errors, and some of these mistakes will be carried 
115 



116 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

to the printed page, even though the manuscript 
and proofs have passed through several hands. 

Complete accuracy is impossible, but fairly clean 
manuscripts may be had, if the writer employs 
the services of one competent to read them. 

In every city there are several professional man- 
uscript readers. If there are none nearby, the 
author should send his manuscript, by mail or ex- 
press, to some good manuscript reader, and the 
result will be practically the same as if he came 
in personal contact with him. 

Editors of newspapers, of other periodicals, and 
of publishing houses will gladly give you the name 
and address of several responsible readers, who 
will not overcharge for the work. 

The reader is warned against many of the adver- 
tised " readers " or " institutions," which claim to 
be able to revise manuscripts and to make them 
salable. 

I have spoken of these " readers " in a chapter 
entitled " Literary Bureaus." 

A good manuscript or proof-reader understands 
the English language and is expert at composi- 



REVISING MANUSCRIPTS 117 

tion and punctuation, and at locating inconsisten- 
cies. Many of the best manuscript readers are 
not college graduates, but have served apprentice- 
ship in newspaper offices as proofreaders. Mere 
education itself does not make one proficient in this 
art, but no one can succeed in it without educa- 
tion. 

Manuscript reading may be divided into two 
classifications : 

First, correction, so far as punctuation, spell- 
ing, paragraphing, and grammar are concerned. 

Secondly, the marking or questioning of incon- 
sistencies, an analysis of plot and characters, and 
suggestions for improvement. 

The fees charged by good manuscript readers 
are not excessive. A fair market rate for this work 
is fifty cents for the first two or three thousand 
words, and from fifteen to twenty-five cents for 
each thousand words up to ten or twelve thousand ; 
and from a dollar and a half to two and a half 
dollars for each ten thousand words in excess of 
ten or twelve thousand. 

If the reader is called upon to locate inconsisten- 



118 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

cies, with or without correcting them, and to advise 
the author as to plot and characters, he may re- 
ceive double the rates quoted. 

The cost of typewriting a manuscript, — and all 
manuscripts should be corrected before the final 
copy is made, — is four or five cents per hundred 
words, with one or two cents per page additional 
if carbon copies are furnished. 

I would advise all authors to have carbon copies 
made of their manuscripts. Unless the author is 
well-to-do, I would suggest that he copy his own 
manuscript, purchasing or leasing a typewriter 
for the purpose. Standard typewriters sell from 
seventy-five to one hundred dollars, but there are a 
number of old makes of these standard machines 
which do good work, and which can be purchased 
as low as twenty-five dollars. Several typewriter 
companies will sell typewriters on installments, and 
they may be rented as low as five dollars for three 
months, although five dollars a month is the regu- 
lar price. 

Distance from a typewriter office presents no ob- 
stacle. They can be sent by express or freight. 
Every author, however, should have a typewriter 



REVISING MANUSCRIPTS 119 

of his own. I would advise against the use of what 
is known as Elite type, as the regular size known 
as Pica type is preferable. 

Never use more than one color of ink in a manu- 
script, as it may confuse the reader and composi- 
tor. 

I would advise every author to obtain the serv- 
ices of a good manuscript or proof-reader, other- 
wise his manuscript is liable to contain errors, and 
often inexcusable ones. He may transpose the 
characters and improperly locate the actions and 
situations. 

If one will study books and articles carefully, he 
will find that occasionally, because of the lack of 
proper reading and revising, the author has called 
some of his characters by several names, has mis- 
located the places, has repeated and contradicted 
himself. Only by revision, — and this to be done 
by an outsider, — can the author hope to produce a 
fairly correct manuscript. 

I have referred to these matters in other chap- 
ters. 



CHAPTER XXI 

How to Send a Manuscript 

MANUSCRIPTS for short articles, and of 
only a few pages, may be folded twice and 
placed in envelopes. When they consist of more 
than a dozen pages, they should not be folded, but 
delivered flat. 

It is well to place a piece of heavy cardboard, 
of the size of the manuscript page, at the top and 
bottom of the manuscript. 

Another good way is to place the manuscript in 
a box, which may be a little larger in length, width, 
or depth. If too deep, place sheets of pasteboard 
on top of the manuscript to take up the surplus 
space. If the box is a little too long, or too wide, 
slips of pasteboard will fill up the space, or sheets 
of folded paper may be inserted. 

Place at least two wrappers on either the pack- 
age or the box. The outer wrapper should be of 
120 



HOW TO SEND A MANUSCRIPT 121 

strong Manilla or brown paper. Then tie it se- 
curely with strong string. If you use ordinary 
twine, wind it around the package at least four 
times, and look out for " granny " knots. 

As letter postage must be paid on manuscripts, 
and the express companies make no extra charge 
for sealed matter, it would be well to seal the man- 
uscript securely, either with sealing wax or paper 
seals, or the wrapper may be pasted together. 

If sent by mail, it is well to emphasize the seal- 
ing, so that the post-office clerks will not consider 
it merchandise or printed matter. 

Write, or better, print, your name in the 
upper left-hand corner, preceded with the word 
" From. 55 Write the address of the editor or pub- 
lisher in the lower right-hand corner space, and 
precede it with " To.' 5 Place the postage stamps 
in the upper right-hand corner. In the lower left- 
hand space, print very prominently, in large let- 
ters, either " Manuscript," or " First-class mat- 
ter." 

If you enclose a letter with the manuscript, be- 
low the words " Manuscript " or " First-class mat- 
ter " write or print " Letter enclosed. 55 



122 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 



The foregoing is illustrated by the following 
diagram, the rules representing the string. 



From 

JOHN T. SMITH, 

460 Main Street, 

Boston, Mass. 



Po3tage 
Stamps 



MANUSCRIPT 



To 
Editor 

The Evening Globe, 

New York City. 



If sent by express, prepay the express, and 
write or print " Express Prepaid," in lower left- 
hand corner. 

Manuscripts sent by express should be addressed 
in the same way. 

Manuscripts sent to a distance will go more 
cheaply by mail, if there are comparatively 
few pages. It will be well, however, for you to 
have your manuscript weighed, either at the post 



HOW TO SEND A MANUSCRIPT 123 

office or on some store scales, unless you have 
scales of your 1 own. The postage rate is two 
cents per ounce or fraction of an ounce. If it 
weighs a pound or more, the express is likely to 
be lower. If you send it by express, be sure to 
obtain a receipt. Express companies make an ad- 
ditional charge if the value exceeds forty-nine or 
fifty dollars. Therefore, if it would cost you as 
much as forty-nine or fifty dollars to copy the 
manuscript, have one of these figures written into 
the receipt. There is no additional express 
charge for value under forty-nine or fifty dollars. 

Manuscripts may be sent by registered mail at 
a cost of ten cents above regular postage. 

Always retain a copy of the manuscript if it is 
of much importance; for the editor or publisher 
does not guarantee manuscripts against loss. 
They are sent and held at the author's risk. 
While there is very little danger of a manuscript 
being lost, I would advise that a copy be made in 
every case, unless the manuscript is very short and 
of no particular value. 

Manuscripts sent to book publishers should be 
addressed as follows: 



IU THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

To the 

Editorial Department, 
Sully and Kleinteich, 
373 Fourth Avenue, 
New York City. 

If the manuscript is sent to the editor of a paper, 
magazine, or other periodical, address it either to 
the Editor, to the Editorial Department, or to 
some editor in particular, as the Literary Editor, 
or the Story Editor. Unless you know the full 
name of the editor, or the head of the editorial 
department, do not address the manuscript to an 
individual name, and it is generally advisable not 
to do so anyway. If you do, write on the pack- 
age a line somewhat as follows : " To be opened 
if Mr. John T. Smith is away." 

Manuscript should always be prepaid. It is ad- 
visable to enclose a letter with a manuscript, un- 
less there are but a few pages of it, directed to 
the Editor or to the Editorial Department, the 
letter to contain the salient points or facts. If it 
is a true story, drawn from life, with living char- 
acters, it is well to mention it in the letter; and 



HOW TO SEND A MANUSCRIPT 125 

you might add a clause to the effect that, al- 
though all, or most, of the characters are living, 
their names and locations have been carefully dis- 
guised. 

It is well to give a short synopsis of a long 
story, outlining very briefly the plot or action. 

If the scene of the story is laid, say, in some 
western mining camp, or on the ocean, mention it 
in the letter. 

The first page of a manuscript should contain 
the title and the name and address of the writer, 
and, besides, a line reading somewhat as follows : 
" If unavailable, please return by express," or 
" Stamps enclosed for return." Write, in the 
upper left-hand corner, approximately the num- 
ber of words, as " About 60,000 words." 

When an unavailable manuscript is returned by] 
a publisher, run over it carefully, and remove any 
marks which the editor or reader may have made. 
It is possible that a printed slip of rejection came 
with it. Be sure to remove this slip before send- 
ing it to another publisher. 



CHAPTER XXII 

Rejected Manuscripts 

FOR the reasons which I have given in another 
chapter, it is obvious that a large proportion 
of meritorious manuscripts will be rejected by one 
or several publishers. 

The author should send his manuscript to the 
publisher handling work of the class of his story. 
Many publishers are specialists, and publish but 
one class of matter. They will, therefore, reject 
a manuscript, no matter how meritorious, if it is 
out of their line. 

Before sending a manuscript to a publisher, ob- 
tain his list of works, and ascertain whether or not 
he is publishing matter similar to your manu- 
script. If he is, then send him your manuscript. 
If he is not, apply to another publisher. 

If the publisher returns the manuscript, do not 

consider that his refusal is prima facie evidence 

that it is not worthy of publication. Send it to 
126 



REJECTED MANUSCRIPTS 127 

another publisher, and continue to do so, until sev- 
eral, or even a dozen, publishers have rejected it. 
If possible, ascertain from each publisher, who 
turns your manuscript down, his reasons for do- 
ing so. If more than one reputable publisher 
states that he has rejected it for the same or sim- 
ilar reasons, it will be well for you to consider re- 
writing or revising it. 

If more than a dozen first-class publishers con- 
sider your manuscript unavailable, you may then 
feel that you have produced a manuscript which 
either contains little quality, or else would be of 
little or no interest to the reading public. Per- 
haps rewriting may remedy the faults, or it may 
be well for you to discard it altogether and write 
another, or quite likely continued refusal may in- 
dicate that you have not sufficient ability or ex- 
perience to become an author. Do not become dis- 
couraged until several publishers have condemned 
your manuscript. What one editor considers 
worth while, another may reject. And many pub- 
lishers have refused to publish a manuscript which, 
eventually, after it had found a publisher, brought 
fame and fortune to its author. 



128 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

While rejection by even several publishers may 
not be considered sufficient evidence that the man- 
uscript is unworthy of publication, rejection must 
not be taken as complimentary. The more pub- 
lishers who reject your manuscript, the more like- 
lihood there is that you have not produced a work 
of quality, or a seller. 

Attempt to profit by each rejection. Rewrite 
and revise, if there is a consensus of opinion de- 
rogatory to your manuscript. 

Many successful authors will tell you that they 
were able readily to sell rejected manuscripts after 
they had obtained a reputation. While this is 
very soothing to the author of a rejected manu- 
script, it must not be taken as evidence that the 
rejected manuscripts of famous authors should 
not have been turned down. 

So long as books will continue to sell, not wholly 
by merit, but by the reputation of their authors, it 
is obvious that the publisher can profitably place 
upon the market a book by a popular author, 
which he would not publish if it were not for the 
author's reputation. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

The Size of a Book 

FORMERLY the pages of all books conformed 
to certain sizes, which were considered stand- 
ard; but at the present time, although these 
standard sizes remain, page dimensions vary to 
suit conditions, and the old standard sizes are not 
altogether adhered to. 

The standard size of a book was based upon a 
sheet of paper twenty-five by thirty-eight inches, 
or rather upon half this size, or nineteen by 
twenty-five inches. 

When the paper or half-sheet is cut so as to 
make four leaves, the book is known as a quarto 
(4to) ; when cut into eight leaves, octavo (8vo) ; 
when cut into twelve leaves, duodecimo (12 mo) ; 
eighteen leaves being known as 18 mo. ; and twenty- 
four leaves being designated as 24 mo. 

The usual novels and books of fiction, includ- 
129 



130 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

ing many text-books and other works, are duo- 
decimo or octavo. 

The thickness of a book is, of course, depend- 
ent upon its number of pages and the thickness of 
the paper used. Some publishers use a thin and 
yet opaque paper, while others prefer what is 
known as regular book paper, a stock with a soft 
surface. The size of type used further deter- 
mines the bulkiness of the book. 

Roman type is invariably used for the text of 
all books, except a few in which a fancy letter ap- 
pears ; but as Roman type is more familiar to the 
reader than is any other face, and is easier to 
read, Roman is given the preference, and com- 
paratively few books are set in other than this 
face. 

The type lines in most books are leaded; that 
is, the lines of type are not set close together, 
and there is a space between them. The follow- 
ing paragraphs present standard faces of type 
used in books: 

This paragraph is set in Twelve Point or 
Pica type, which is the largest size usually 



THE SIZE OF A BOOK 131 

appearing in books, the majority of books 
being set in smaller type. 

This paragraph is set in Eleven Point or Small 
Pica, which is the usual size in novels and works 
of fiction, and for many textbooks. It is prob- 
ably the most readable size. 

This paragraph is set in Ten Point or Long Primer, 
a size which appears usually in paper-covered books, 
and not infrequently in those which are cloth-bound. 

This paragraph is set in Eight Point or Brevier. It is 
not much used in cloth-bound books, but sometimes appears 
in textbooks and in those which are paper-covered. It is 
quite readable, if leaded, or when the type width is 
shorter than that of the average book published. 



This paragraph is set in Six Point or Nonpareil. This size 
is used for indexes, and frequently in Bibles and encyclo- 
pedias. It is not to be recommended, except when the type 
width does not exceed two and a half inches. Newspapers 
are set in this size. 

This paragraph is set in Five-and-a-half Point or Agate, and is 
used principally for Bibles and other closely printed books, where 
the column or page measure is very narrow. Most of the 
" want " or classified advertisements appearing in the newspapers 
are set in this size, and it is a standard basis of advertising-space 
measure. Practically all publications, except the country week- 
lies, sell their advertising space at so much per Agate line, single 
column measurement, irrespective of the size of type used in the 
advertisement. Fourteen Agate lines make one inch of depth. 



132 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

There are several faces of Roman, commercially 
known by arbitrary names, like Scotch Roman, 
Century, Clearface, etc. 

Most books are set in what are known as Mod- 
ern and Old Style Roman. The letters in the 
former are somewhat shaded, that is to say, the 
lines are not of the same width, while those 
in the latter are practically the same. Old Style 
Roman is used more than is Modern, but either 
is very readable. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

The Number of Words in a Book 

THERE is no standard rule controlling the 
number of words in a book, because books 
may be of any size, and any size of type may be 
used, if it is not larger than what is known as 
Twelve Point, nor smaller than what is called 
Six Point. 

The average novel, or work of fiction, contains 
rather more than fifty thousand words, although 
some of them are of not exceeding forty thousand 
words, while others require as much as seventy- 
five thousand, or even more, words, for the 
proper working out of the plot. 

Comparatively few book publishers, how- 
ever, will publish a story or novel containing much 
less than fifty thousand words, because few 
novels are sold for less than a dollar, and most of 
them are priced at a dollar and twenty-five cents 

or a dollar and a half, and it is commercially 
133 



134 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

necessary to publish a book containing as many 
as three hundred pages, which would not be pos- 
sible with much less than fifty thousand words, 
unless unusually large type was used. 

The author should bear in mind that quantity 
as well as quality must be considered. The pub- 
lic demands both. It is sometimes difficult to sell 
a book, even though it be unusually meritorious, 
if it does not contain at least three hundred pages, 
unless it is to be retailed for less than one dollar. 
Intrinsic quality, while the first requisite, is not 
independent of the appearance of quantity. 

The whole world, including the reader, is con- 
ventional, and will not accept anything out of the 
ordinary unless it is extraordinary. If it pays a 
dollar for a book, it demands the appearance of a 
dollar's worth of paper and printed matter. 

Stories for children, however, are usually set in 
Twelve Point type, and sometimes in one or two 
sizes larger, and they may contain as few as ten 
or fifteen thousand words. 

Textbooks vary from forty to one hundred 
thousand words, exclusive of illustrations, charts, 
maps, or diagrams. 



NUMBER OF WORDS IN A BOOK 135 

The paper-covered editions seldom contain less 
than fifty thousand words, and from that up to a 
hundred thousand. 

If the finished manuscript contains too few, or 
too many, words, the author had better bring it 
up or down to an acceptable size ; but he may, if he 
chooses, submit the manuscript to the publisher, 
accompanying it with a letter stating that he 
would be pleased to add to it, or to condense it, if 
the publisher desires. 

If all of the pages of a manuscript contain ap- 
proximately the same number of words, it is easy 
for the author to size up his work, so to speak, as 
he goes along. While the number of words per 
page will vary somewhat, the average page of 
manuscript will contain not less than two hundred 
nor more than three hundred words, if typewrit- 
ten. I have spoken of this in another chapter. 



CHAPTER XXV 

How a Manuscript is Received and Handled 
By a Book Publisher 

THE book publisher maintains an editorial de- 
partment in charge of an editor-in-chief and 
his assistants, and with one or more literary ad- 
visers. 

Further, most book publishers employ what are 
known as " Readers," who receive a stated salary 
or fees. These readers are usually literary men 
or women, many of them being retired ministers, 
lawyers, or other professionals, and they read at 
their homes the manuscripts submitted to them. 
Unless the editor, or one of his assistants, by a 
casual glance at the manuscript, feels that it is 
not available, he sends it to one of his readers. 
The reader is supposed to read every word of the 
manuscript, and he may do so, unless a casual 
perusal of it shows that it is worthless or not 
available. 

136 



HANDLING A MANUSCRIPT 137 

After reading, he returns the manuscript to the 
publisher, with his recommendations, and he prob- 
ably turns down, with short comment, nine out of 
every ten manuscripts he receives. The others he 
recommends the publication of, either positively or 
states that they are worthy of further considera- 
tion. 

Unless the author is well-known, the chances are 
that his manuscript would not get beyond the first 
reader, if this reader condemns it. If its publica- 
tion is recommended, or if the reader feels that it 
merits further consideration, it may be read by the 
editor-in-chief or by one of his assistants, or by 
the literary adviser; but the chances are it will be 
sent to another reader. If his report is favor- 
able, it will go to the editorial department for final 
decision. If one reader recommends it, and an- 
other condemns it, it will probably be sent to a 
third reader. 

It has been said, and with much truth, that it is 
well-nigh impossible to diagnose the real or sell- 
ing value of a manuscript with more than a mod- 
erate degree of accuracy. 

Thousands of manuscripts, which have been re- 



138 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

jected by both readers and editors, have become 
successful, other publishing houses considering 
them favorably. Rejection by one publisher, or 
even by several, need not, therefore, be considered 
prima facie evidence that the manuscript is unwor- 
thy of publication. 

I recall one manuscript in particular, written by 
an author comparatively unknown, which was re- 
jected by more than a dozen publishers, and yet 
became an unqualified success, more than one hun- 
dred thousand copies being sold. 

It is obvious that individual judgment is often 
faulty, and that many a good thing is rejected. 
I would not, however, advise the author to submit 
his manuscript to more than a dozen publishers, 
without rewriting it; because I think it is fair to 
presume that if that number of reputable pub- 
lishers refuse it, the manuscript contains too many 
faults to be successfully put upon the market. 

Because human nature, and even expertness, 
cannot always be depended upon, rejection is the 
rule, not the exception. 

Comparatively few new writers succeed in plac- 
ing their manuscripts, even if they are meritorious, 



HANDLING A MANUSCRIPT 139 

with the first two or three publishers to whom they 
are submitted. Many a reader will allow his in- 
digestion or personal feelings to warp his judg- 
ment. If he is suffering from a bilious attack, he 
may reject a manuscript which he would recom- 
mend if he were feeling well. 

All literary men, and particularly readers, are 
more or less biased, and allow their personal likes 
and dislikes to interfere with their judgment. 
This condition cannot be avoided, and the author 
must meet it. 

Then, even with the recommendation of one or 
more readers, the editor or publisher may refuse 
to accept the manuscript, either because his judg- 
ment does not coincide with that of the reader's or 
the literary adviser's, or because the plot or char- 
acter of the story is opposed to his policy. For 
example, the first-class story of adventure may be 
rejected by some publishers, not because it is not 
well written and worthy of publication, but be- 
cause the publisher does not carry books of its 
class. Another publisher would gladly accept it. 
Then, most book publishers limit the number of 
books they will publish in a year. Their list may 



140 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

be full, and they will not consider the publication 
of any manuscript unless it is of unusual quality. 
But the manuscript, rejected by them, may be ac- 
ceptable to the one who is looking for a new manu- 
script. 

There may be other reasons for rejecting a man- 
uscript, irrespective of its literary quality. It is 
obvious that the book publisher is in business for 
profit, and that he will not publish a manuscript 
at his own expense, unless there appears to be good 
reason to believe that it is a money-maker. In 
another chapter, I have discussed the publication 
of book manuscripts at the expense of the author. 

While the final decision may be left to the editor- 
in-chief, many publishers have the final word, un- 
less the editor is a member of the firm. 

If the manuscript is accepted, the author is no- 
tified, and a contract is made with him. In an- 
other chapter I have spoken of contracts. 

The author may be requested to condense his 
manuscript, or to enlarge it, or to make changes 
mutually agreeable to both the publisher and him- 
self. Certain parts may have to be omitted, some 
chapters rewritten, and descriptions lengthened; 



HANDLING A MANUSCRIPT 141 

but these conditions do not interfere materially 
with the acceptance of the manuscript. If the 
story, as a whole, pleases the publisher, and he be- 
lieves he can publish it to advantage, he will accept 
the manuscript, subject to changes which may be 
agreed upon. 

The author is notified, and if living nearby, he is 
invited to call. If not, negotiations are made by 
mail. 

He is given a written contract, in which terms 
are specified. 

The manuscript then goes to the manufactur- 
ing department, which, with or without consulting 
the author, will arrange for the typesetting, and 
specify the size of page, and the illustrations, if 
any. In another chapter, I have covered illustra- 
tions. 

In the course of time, galley proofs are sent the 
author. Galley proofs are proofs taken on long 
strips of paper, about two feet in length, and rep- 
resent the width, but not the length, of the page. 
These the author will read, correct, and return to 
the publisher. I have spoken of proofs in another' 
chapter. After the proofs have been read and 



142 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

corrected, the book is printed and bound, brass dies 
usually being made for the cover. 

The table of contents and index are set last. 
Usually the author includes in his manuscript a 
table of contents, and an index, if one is necessary. 

It is obvious, however, that the table of con- 
tents and index should not be set until the book 
is in type and paged, as the page numbers can- 
not be given until this is done. 

The book is then placed upon the market, usually 
with advertising. The publisher issues a special 
announcement of it, if it be a work of importance, 
and mention is made in his catalogue, or list of 
books. Copies are usually sent to literary papers, 
newspapers, and magazines, for review. An- 
nouncements are sent to the trade, or to book- 
stores, and the book is then fairly launched, to 
swim or to sink on the stormy sea of literature. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

Terms for the Publication of Books 

THE business or contract relations between au- 
thors and reputable book publishers are sub- 
stantially as follows: 

First: The usual form of contract between the 
book publisher and the author requires the pub- 
lisher to bear the entire expense of putting the 
book upon the market, including the setting of 
the type, the making of the electrotype plates, the 
binding, the advertising, and the expense of sell- 
ing. The author contributes only his manuscript, 
and bears no part of the cost of publication. 

The majority of books are published under this 

agreement. The author receives what is known 

as a royalty, in nearly every case based upon the 

retail or list price of the book, irrespective of what) 

the publisher may receive for it. For example : if 

the book is listed and sells at retail at, say, one 

dollar and a half net, or one dollar and a half 
143 



144 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

gross, the author receives ten per cent, of a dollar 
and a half, or fifteen cents, for every copy sold. 
But no royalty or percentage is paid upon copies 
given away for advertising or selling purposes. 
The author receives ten or twelve copies free, and 
must pay the wholesale or trade price for addi- 
tional ones. Books listed, say, at one dollar net, 
are sold to other publishers and to booksellers at 
seventy-five cents, or twenty-five per cent, off the 
list price. 

If the book is listed, say, at one dollar, without 
the word " net " following the price, the price is 
considered gross, and the trade may purchase this 
book at thirty-three and a third per cent, off the 
list or retail price, sometimes at forty per cent, 
discount. But the author, in most cases, receives 
his full ten per cent, on the so-called list or retail 
price, whether it be net or gross. 

If the author is unknown, the publisher may 
not pay him any royalty until a thousand or more 
copies have been sold, which will be sufficient to 
cover the expense of publication. 

If the author has a reputation, he may make 
a contract with the publisher to receive ten per 



TERMS FOR THE PUBLICATION 145 

cent, on all books sold, up to a specified number, 
say, from two to five thousand; and twelve and a 
half per cent, on all copies sold in excess of that 
number. 

A lower royalty is usually paid on copies sold 
out of the country. 

Occasionally the publisher will pay as high as 
fifteen per cent, royalty to a popular author after 
from ten to fifteen thousand copies have been sold. 

Secondly: If the character of the book is such 
that its sale would presumably be small, and prob- 
ably not sufficient to pay the cost of publication 
and a fair profit to the publisher, or if the sale is 
largely problematical, the reputable publisher 
may refuse to publish the book unless the whole 
or part of the expenses of publication are guaran- 
teed by the author. 

Thousands of manuscripts of intrinsic value 
and merit are presented to publishers, and yet the 
subject-matter may not be sufficiently popular for 
an extensive sale, or the book may be of a his- 
torical or scientific character, appealing to only 
a limited class of readers. 

The publisher, then, is justified in requiring a 



146 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

guarantee from the author, covering the whole 
or part of the expense of publication, the author 
agreeing to pay this sum before publication, or 
bind himself to purchase a specified number of 
books. In this case the publisher becomes vir- 
tually the agent of the author, and the publisher, 
in return, pays the author a royalty or percent- 
age on the retail price of the book considerably 
larger than is given in the first instance. 

The expense of publishing a book, including an- 
nouncements and advertising of it, runs from five 
hundred to several thousand dollars, but the aver- 
age story book or novel can be placed on the mar- 
ket for from seven hundred and fifty to a thou- 
sand dollars. 

If the publisher feels that the book is going 
to sell readily, he is not likely to make an arrange- 
ment with the author other than on a purely 
royalty basis, the publisher to pay all of the ex- 
penses. 

A reputable publisher will not publish a book 
which does not contain merit, even at the author's? 
expense. If it is a work of value, and yet would 
meet probably with a limited scale, he may be 



TERMS FOR THE PUBLICATION 147 

willing to publish it, if the author pays the whole 
or part of the cost of publication. But the pub- 
lisher will be very frank with the author, and fully 
explain the situation to him. 

Practically all large sellers are published 
wholly at the expense of their publishers. 

In another chapter I have warned the author 
against publishing charlatans, who feed upon 
credulous authors, and who obtain their profit en- 
tirely out of what the author pays as a guaranty, 
the publisher making little or no effort to sell the 
books. 

Thirdly: Occasionally, but very infrequently, 
the publisher buys the manuscript outright, or 
pays the author a definite sum upon publication, 
with a small royalty. 

Authors of books which are reasonably sure to 
become large sellers may obtain what is known 
as advance royalty upon delivering the manu- 
script, or at the publication of the book, the sum 
advanced to be deducted from future royalties. 

If the right of translation is reserved, the au- 
thor shares in the profits to the extent agreed 
upon. He also participates in the profits if the 



148 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

book is dramatized, unless an agreement is made to 
the contrary. 

If the book appears after publication as syn- 
dicate matter in the newspapers, the author re- 
ceives, as an extra remuneration, the amount 
agreed upon or to be agreed upon. He may, if 
agreeable to the publisher, retain the syndicate or 
dramatic rights. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

Contracts with Book Publishers 

THE book publisher has a printed contract, 
containing blanks to be filled out, which he 
executes in duplicate, he and the author signing 
both copies. These contracts are very much alike 
in substance. 

The publisher agrees to publish the book under 
the conditions specified, either at his own expense 
or wholly or partially at the expense of the au- 
thor. According to the contract, the publisher is 
to furnish the author, without charge, ten or 
twelve complete copies of the book, the author be- 
ing permitted to purchase additional copies at the 
trade or wholesale price. 

The name of the book is specified in the con- 
tract, but is usually followed by a clause reading 
somewhat as follows : " Or other title which may 
be mutually agreed upon." Many books are pub- 
lished under a title which does not appear in the 

149 



150 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

contract, a better one being chosen after the con- 
tract is made. 

The publisher usually agrees, in the contract, 
to stand the cost of author's corrections up to a 
specified amount, usually twenty-five dollars, or 
ten per cent, of the original cost of composition. 
For example: Let us suppose that in setting the 
book the publisher incurs an expense of five hun- 
dred dollars. The author is, then, permitted to 
make corrections and alterations upon the proofs 
up to ten per cent, of five hundred dollars, or 
fifty dollars. All corrections made by the author, 
after the book is set, in excess of the amount al- 
lowed, must be paid by the author. I have 
spoken of author's corrections in another chap- 
ter. 

The majority of contracts remunerate the au- 
thor by paying him a royalty either on the retail 
or list price of the book, or on the wholesale price, 
usually the former. This percentage is about 
six per cent, on text-books, or schoolbooks, and 
about ten per cent, on other works. (See the 
chapter, " Terms for the Publication of Books.") 

The usual contract has in it a clause to the 



CONTRACTS WITH PUBLISHERS 151 

effect that if the publisher fails to keep the book 
upon the market, the copyright ownership is, by 
this failure alone, transferred to the author. 
The author, then, may, if he will, arrange with 
another publisher for the republication of the 
book, or put it to any other use, for by default 
on the part of the publisher it becomes his prop- 
erty. The publisher, however, retains the electro- 
type plates, the cover dies, and the illustrations. 
The author has no right to them, unless he pur- 
chases them of the publisher. 

The following forms of contracts are presented 
as representative of those used by the better class 
of book publishers. The words printed in Italics 
represent the portions to be filled in specifically 
in each case: 

MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT made 
this first day of January, A. D. 1913, by and be- 
tween 

George T. Smith, party of the first part, 
and The Massachusetts Publishing Company, of 
Boston, Massachusetts, Booksellers and Publish- 
ers, party of the second part. 



152 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

The said George T. Smith in consideration of 
the agreements of the said The Massachusetts 
Publishing Company, hereinafter contained, 
hereby agree with them, and their representatives 
and assigns, that he will properly prepare for the 
press a work to be entitled 

The Ups and Downs of Life (title subject to 
change by mutual agreement). That the said 
The Massachusetts Publishing Company are au- 
thorized to copyright said work in their own name 
or in the name of said Smith, and to procure any 
renewal of same for the said Smith or his heirs; 
that the expense of procuring copyright is to 
be borne by the said Smith; that the said book 
shall not violate or infringe any copyright of 
others, and that he will, at his own expense, pro- 
tect and defend said book from any adverse claims 
that said book infringes any copyright, and he 
will indemnify and save harmless said The Massa- 
chusetts Publishing Company from all damage, 
costs, and expenses arising to them by reason of 
any such infringement or claims that the said 
book infringes any copyright; that he will license 
and allow the said The Massachusetts Publishing 



CONTRACTS WITH PUBLISHERS 153 

Company and their representatives and assigns, 
but no other party or parties, to print, publish, 
and sell the aforesaid book, and any revisions of 
the same, in such editions as the demand may re- 
quire, during the continuance of any copyrights 
or renewals thereof which may be obtained there- 
for, — provided, however, that the said The Mas- 
sachusetts Publishing Company, and their rep- 
resentatives and assigns, shall in substantial good 
faith keep and perform their agreements herein- 
after contained ; — and that during the continu- 
ance of the exclusive rights hereby granted, he 
will with all reasonable diligence superintend, in 
the usual manner of authors, the preparation for 
the press of any new edition thereof ; and will not 
prepare, edit, or cause to be published in his name 
or otherwise, anything which may injure or inter- 
fere with the sale of the aforesaid book. 

The said The Massachusetts Publishing Com- 
pany, in consideration of the foregoing agree- 
ments of the said George T. Smith, hereby agree 
on their part that they will, after the delivery 
to them of the manuscript thereof as aforesaid, 
secure a good and valid copyright thereof, and 



154 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

print and publish an edition of said book, ten 
copies of which they will deliver to the said Smith 
for his own use without charge; that they will en- 
deavor to secure the sale of all editions published 
by them; that they will pay unto the said Smith 
or his representatives or assigns, a royalty of ten 
per cent, of the published price of said book, in 
the usual cloth and paper covers respectively. An 
account of copies sold up to the first day of Jan- 
uary and to the first day of July of each year 
shall be made up semi-annually and royalties 
therefor paid to the said Smith within thirty 
days from the first day of February and of Au- 
gust of each year. 

{Other conditions appear here.) 

It is further agreed that from any sum to be 
paid to the said Smith shall first be deducted the 
cost of any alterations or corrections exceeding 
ten per cent, of the cost of first setting up the 
type made by the said Smith in said book, after 
the portion altered or corrected is in type. It is 
understood and agreed that such copies as may be 
given to the said Smith and such other copies as 



CONTRACTS WITH PUBLISHERS 155 

may be used for presentation to editors and others 
for the purpose of obtaining reviews and notices, 
or otherwise to promote the sale of the book, 
shall be free from royalty. The publishers shall 
sell to the author any copies of said book which 
he may wish for his own purposes, at as low a rate 
as they sell similar quantities to the general 
trade. It is further agreed by and between the 
parties hereto, that if at the expiration of three 
years from the date of publication, or later, the 
publishers shall determine that there is not suf- 
ficient sale for the work to enable them to profit- 
ably continue its publication and sale, then they 
shall be privileged to dispose of the copies remain- 
ing on hand, as they deem best, free of copyright 
(it being understood that the party of the first 
part shall have the option of taking said copies 
at cost of manufacture). It is further under- 
stood and agreed that upon all copies of said book 
sold outside of the United States the royalty shall 
be five per cent, of the published price, and it is 
also agreed that upon any edition published for 
schools and supplementary reading the royalty 



156 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

shall be six per cent, of the published price. It 
is further agreed that the said The Massachu- 
setts Publishing Company shall have the sole right 
to give permission to print or publish extracts 
from the said work, and to arrange for its serial 
publication in newspapers or other periodical pub- 
lications, but that any sums derived from the same 
shall be equally divided between the parties of the 
first and second part, also that no dramatization 
of the said work shall be made unless the parties 
of the first and second part shall jointly con- 
sent thereto, and that in the event of such 
dramatization being produced all sums received 
therefor shall be paid to the said The Massachu- 
setts Publishing Company and shared equally 
with the party of the first part, payments to be 
made semi-annually by the said The Massachu- 
setts Publishing Company within thirty days from 
the first day of February and of August of each 
year. 

(Further conditions may be written here.) 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the said parties 
have hereto, and to another instrument of like 



CONTRACTS WITH PUBLISHERS 157 

tenor, set their hands the day and year first 
written. 

The Massachusetts Publishing Co., 

By William R. Black, President. 
George T. Smith. 

THIS AGREEMENT made this first day of 
January, 1913, by and between George T. Smith 
of Boston, Mass., party of the first part, herein- 
after called the author, and The New York Pub- 
lishing Company, a corporation organized and do- 
ing business under and by virtue of the laws of 
the State of New York, party of the second part, 
hereinafter called the publisher, witnesseth: 

WHEREAS, the said party of the first part is 
the author and owner of a manuscript entitled 
The Career of a Lawyer, or any other title which 
may be mutually agreed upon, and desires to pub- 
lish the same upon the terms and under the con- 
ditions hereinafter set forth, and the party of 
the second part desires upon the said terms and 
conditions to publish said work. Now, therefore, 
it is mutually agreed, as follows: 

Said author hereby gives and grants unto 



158 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

the said publisher, its successors and assigns, 
the exclusive right and license to publish, print, 
and sell the aforesaid work, and any revision 
thereof, in all book forms during the term of 
copyright and renewals thereof. 

Said author hereby covenants with the said 
publisher that he is the sole author and proprie- 
tor of the said work, and hereby authorizes said 
publisher to take out in its own name the copy- 
right on said work in the United States and Great 
Britain, but it is understood and expressly agreed 
that the ownership of said copyright, subject to 
the license hereby granted, shall belong to the said 

AUTHOR. 

The said publisher agrees upon its part to 
print and publish said manuscript in book form, 
at its own expense, in such style and manner, and! 
in such quantity, as it deems most expedient, and 
to sell the same at a retail or catalogue price of 
one dollar, and agrees to manage the sale and dis- 
tribution of said book, and the advertising and 
general publicity of the same, and to care for the 
distribution of the editorial copies thereof, and 
agrees to pay to said author a royalty of ten 



CONTRACTS WITH PUBLISHERS 159 

per cent, upon the retail or catalogue price of all 
copies of said book sold in the United States, and 
it is expressly agreed that no royalty or percent- 
age whatever shall be paid upon any copies de- 
stroyed by fire or water, or otherwise, or sold at 
or below cost, or given away for the purpose of 
aiding in the sale of said work, and provided, 
further, that if conditions shall arise whereby it 
becomes necessary to reduce an overstock of said 
books or to close out an unsalable remainder of 
sheets or bound books, the said publisher shall 
have the right to dispose of such stock at such 
price as it deems desirable, and no royalty shall 
be paid upon such sales. If, however, a regular 
catalogue reduction in the price of said book shall 
be made, the author's royalty is to continue and 
apply upon the above percentage basis on such 
reduced price. 

It is understood and agreed that said pub- 
lisher shall be allowed a reasonable latitude in 
making alterations in proof of said book, which 
are changes from the manuscript. The said 
publisher shall bear the first Twenty-five Dollars 
of the expenses of the printer's charges and other 



160 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

costs of such alterations, and the author shall 
bear all such expenses in excess of Twenty-five 
Dollars. 

It is understood and agreed that if during the 
period covered by this agreement, said work shall 
be published in other than cloth book form, the 
terms of such publication shall be subject to a 
further mutual arrangement between the said 
publisher and said author, and shall not be 
deemed to be covered by this agreement. 

Said publisher agrees to make and furnish to 
said author written statements of sales of said 
book, and to pay royalties based thereon, twice 
a year, namely, in February and August of each 
year. 

Said publisher will present to said author, 
free of charge, twelve copies of said book im- 
mediately upon publication, and sell to him any 
additional copies desired for his personal use at 
a discount of twenty-five per cent, from the retail 
price of said book, and upon said additional copies 
so purchased by said author, he shall be entitled 
to royalties. 

The said publisher hereby agrees to transfer 



CONTRACTS WITH PUBLISHERS 161 

to the said author all rights and privileges which 
are contained in this Agreement, provided that 
he, the said publisher, fails to be able to supply 
the market with the said book for any period ex- 
ceeding ninety days. 

It is expressly understood and agreed that if 
the publication of said work in the manner and 
style agreed upon by the parties hereto shall oc- 
casion or directly or indirectly result in any suit 
at law or in equity, to which the said publisher 
shall be made a party by reason of any real or 
claimed libel, infringement of copyright, or un- 
fair competition, then the said author will in- 
demnify and save harmless the said publisher 
from and against all costs, damages, counsel fees, 
and any expenses whatsoever which the pub- 
lisher shall or may sustain or incur in and about 
the said action or suit. 

(Other conditions may appear here.) 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the parties here- 
unto have set their hands and seals, the day and 
year first above written. 

George T. Smith. [Seal.] 



162 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Witness to signature of author: 
Walter W. Warren. 

The New York Publishing Company, 

[Seal.] 
By John M. White, President. 

Witness to signature of publishers: 
Mary W. Green. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

Disreputable Publishers 

SCATTERED throughout the country are a 
number of publishing houses, or rather con- 
cerns which pretend to act as publishers, whose 
business is disreputable. 

They own extensive printing establishments, or 
are connected with them. As a matter of fact, 
they do not really publish a book, except when 
they, by accident, get hold of one which will sell 
without pressure. 

They are plain and simple swindlers, who prey 
upon the innocent, proud, and conceited writers 
who cannot possibly produce a readable book. 
They usually maintain handsomely appointed of- 
fices, and those in charge of them are excessively 
suave and polite. They never turn down a man- 
uscript which is respectable and is not libelous. 

They will publish practically everything and any- 
163 



16* THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

thing, if the author is able to put up a guaranty 
fund. 

They require an advance payment far in ex- 
cess of the cost of printing and binding. In 
other words, they are printers only, and not pub- 
lishers; and they make their money as printers, 
except that they overcharge for the work they 
do. 

Not only do they make a profit out of the 
printing and alleged publishing, but they will 
suggest revision and editing at the author's ex- 
pense. 

I think that most of them realize a profit of not 
less than a hundred per cent, on every book they 
pretend to publish. They keep within the law, 
because they legally publish the book. They an- 
nounce it, and claim to make effort to sell it. 

It is very hard to reach these scoundrels by 
process of law, because they usually keep within 
legal requirements. 

Their procedure is somewhat as follows: They 
keep in close touch with the so-called readers of 
reputable publishers. These readers come in con- 
tact with a large number of unavailable manu- 



DISREPUTABLE PUBLISHERS 165 

scripts, either of little or no value, or unsalable. 
Most of these readers are conscientious and hon- 
est, but as they are necessarily literary and 
professional men or women, few of them are famil- 
iar with the wiles of these false publishers. In- 
nocently they will agree to furnish the names 
and addresses of the authors whose manuscripts 
they have rejected. 

The disreputable publisher writes an enthu- 
siastic letter to the author, telling him that he 
understands that he has written a book of unusual 
merit. He will ask the author, as a favor, to 
send him the manuscript. He will give it a super- 
ficial reading, or may not read it at all. He will 
then write a letter to the author, filled with the 
most complimentary expressions, suggesting that 
he call upon him or correspond with him. He will 
assure him that his manuscript possesses great 
merit, and is what the world needs. He will tell 
him that he is in a position to make the author's 
reputation, to force his name to become a house- 
hold word all over the reading world. 

As the majority of authors, and especially those 
who cannot possibly produce acceptable manu- 



166 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

scripts, are proud of their work, and possess a 
self-respect heavily adulterated with self-conceit, 
it is obvious that exaggerated and extreme flat- 
tery will not fall upon unfertile ground, but will 
take root even deep enough to reach the pocket- 
book of the author. 

The author has probably read his manuscript! 
to friends, who are incompetent to weigh literary 
values, or who would flatter him anyway. 

The fact that he has written something is an 
indication that he thinks he has done meritorious 
work. He is hungry for praise, and will accept 
it indiscriminately. He calls upon the publisher, 
and is received royally. He is taken to lunch, 
and the conversation is confined to his wondrous 
manuscript. 

After the author has been placed in a responsive 
mood, the publisher informs him that he would 
gladly publish the book on the usual royalty basis, 
and without expense to the author, but unfor- 
tunately his list for the season is full. Conse- 
quently he cannot consistently take on any new 
books for a year or more. 

With a smile which would sell sawdust as a 



DISREPUTABLE PUBLISHERS 167 

breakfast food, the publisher expresses his almost 
tearful regrets at the inevitable conditions, and 
intimates that if the author will allow him (the 
publisher) to act as his agent, he will give the 
book his personal attention, and so handle it that 
it will have exceptional opportunity to burn holes 
in the mental pockets of the expectant world. He 
cannot bear to allow so good a work to remain in 
a manuscript. It will make a hit, — a tremen- 
dous hit. Its publication will give the author a 
reputation as wide and as broad as the great, 
big world of readers. Fame is knocking at the 
author's door. Will the author welcome it, or 
will he allow opportunity (spelled with a capital 
O) to pass beyond his reach? Quietly the pub- 
lisher informs the author that the expense of pub- 
lication will be very slight, not exceeding, say, a 
thousand dollars. If the author has the money, 
the publisher is likely to get it. If he has not, 
the publisher will suggest that the author borrow 
it, because it will be so easy to return it from the 
enormous income of the book. The poor deluded 
author, proud of what he has written, filled with 
the conceit of literature, falls an easy victim. 



168 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

The publisher is not, however, through with him. 
There are other avenues of profit, and he leads 
the author gently to them and through them. 
With a smile which was practiced before his mir- 
ror, and in the atmosphere of a potted-plant of- 
fice, he assures the author that the sale of the 
book will be materially increased by the addition 
of illustrations. He would like to send the manu- 
script to one of his artists, who would read it and 
suggest pictures, always, of course, with the as- 
sistance of the author. This is the climax of fi- 
nancial flattery. The author loses his head, and 
more of his money. The illustrations are made at 
a cost two or three times greater than the expense 
of producing the pictures and plates. 

The publisher may send copies for review to a 
list of newspapers with which he has an arrange- 
ment. The editors of these journals will, un- 
doubtedly, review the work in extravagant terms, 
and the publisher will hand these reviews with much 
satisfaction to the smiling and much deceived 
author. 

If the guaranty fund paid by the author is suf- 
ficient, the publisher may • advertise the book in a 



DISREPUTABLE PUBLISHERS 169 

few newspapers or magazines ; but if he does so, 
he is likely to require an additional payment from 
the author. Here, again, he has an opportunity 
to make an additional profit at the author's ex- 
pense. 

The book is published, a few copies of the an- 
nouncement, filled with superlative adjectives, are 
printed, and the circulation of them is pretty 
closely limited to what the author receives. 

If the author has money, or can get it, the pub- 
lisher suggests that the author purchase a num- 
ber of the books and send autograph copies, not 
only to his friends, but to leading literary writers 
and to other prominent persons. This will ad- 
vertise the book, says the publisher, and be of 
mutual benefit, especially to the author. It will 
add many cubits to the rapidly growing stature of 
his fame. 

The publisher offers to bear a part of the ex- 
pense, and to sell the books at an extremely low 
price ; but this price, although it looks low on the 
face of it, pays the publisher a hundred per cent, 
net profit. 

Possibly a dozen copies are actually sold. 



170 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

The publisher has the author's money, the au- 
thor has the distinction of making a fool of him- 
self, of putting on the market, at his own ex- 
pense, a book which nobody will read or want to 
read, — and the bottom of his fame falls out for- 
ever. 

The author, in dismay, calls upon the publisher 
aud weeps tears of disappointment. The pub- 
lisher, without one whit less of a smile, expresses 
unbounded surprise and unlimited regret. He 
does not understand why so good a book has not 
been received with cheers of approbation. He as- 
sures the author, — if the author has any more 
money at his disposal, — that the reason cannot be 
located. The trouble was caused by one of those 
inexplicable situations, which occasionally occur. 
He advises the author to try again; and, if the 
author has any money, the chances are that he 
will do so. Once a fool, always a fool, until either 
money or folly gives out. 

I do not feel called upon to give the reader the 
names of these disreputable publishers, because, 
while they are known to be charlatans, it would 
be very difficult to furnish proof which will stand 



DISREPUTABLE PUBLISHERS 171 

in law. The author can avoid them by keeping 
away from any book publishers who do not have 
an established reputation. It may not be easy, 
however, for him to discover just what an estab- 
lished reputation is. 

Unless he is acquainted with the character of 
publishers, he should ask the advice of the literary 
editor of a great publication, who makes a spe- 
cialty of reviewing books. A letter addressed to 
the editor of any of the leading magazines will 
bring a courteous and satisfactory reply. I 
would suggest that he write to several magazine 
editors, and refuse to have anything to do with 
any publisher unless three reputable magazine 
editors recommend him. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

Copyrighting 

COPYRIGHTS may be secured by making 
an application in writing to the Copyright 
(Department, Librarian of Congress, Washington, 
D. C. 

Copyrights may be secured for practically 
every kind of book, including composite books, en- 
cyclopedias, directories, and gazetteers. Period- 
icals, including newspapers, dramatical and musi- 
cal compositions, works of art, including models 
or designs for works of art, reproductions of 
works of art, drawings or plastic works of a scien- 
tific character, figures, prints, pictorial illustra- 
tions, and motion-picture photo-plays, and motion 
pictures without photo-plays, may be copyrighted. 

A copyright may also be issued for lectures, 

sermons, and addresses, which are delivered and 

not printed or published. 

The copyright gives to the author, or artist, 
172 



COPYRIGHTING 173 

or modeler, or to the publisher, or owner of the 
work, exclusive rights to make, use, print, publish, 
or sell the work in question for a term of twenty- 
eight years from date of publication or issue, or 
from the date of copyright entry if the work is 
not published. 

At the expiration of the term provided for, the 
copyright may be renewed or extended by the au- 
thor, if living, or by the widow, or widower, or 
children of the author, if the author is not living, 
or by the author's executors, or by his next of 
kin, for an additional twenty-eight years, or for 
fifty-six years in all. 

The process of securing a copyright is very 
simple. The would-be copyrighter should write 
to the Copyright Department, Librarian of Con- 
gress, Washington, D. C, specifying the class of 
the article which he desires to copyright, and re- 
questing the department to send him rules and 
regulations and application blanks. Postage 
stamps need not be enclosed for reply. 

He will then fill out the blanks according to in- 
structions, and forward them to the Copyright 
Office, enclosing a money order for one dollar. 



174 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

There are no other fees. If a dollar bill is sent, 
the letter should be registered. Personal checks 
will not be accepted. 

Within a few days, he will receive a certificate 
of copyright. 

The services of a lawyer are not needed, as any 
one of ordinary intelligence can obtain a copy- 
right. Should his application be faulty, the 
Copyright Office will return it with further in- 
structions. 

The majority of books are copyrighted by the 
publisher. 

The line "Copyright, 1913, by John T. 
Smith " must appear on the title-page, or upon 
the page following the title-page, of the book, and 
must be written or printed on every copy of 
everything copyrighted. 

Articles or stories, either for syndicates or for 
exclusive publication, may be copyrighted, either 
by the author or publisher; but if published in a 
copyrighted magazine or paper, the general copy- 
right will cover them. 

If the author or syndicate does its own copy- 
righting, the line " Copyright, 1913, by John T. 



COPYRIGHTING 175 

Smith " must appear either at the beginning or 
at the close of the article or story. 

Foreign copyrights may be secured, but as the 
process is somewhat complicated, I would refer the 
reader to any good publisher. 

A copyrighted book or story cannot be drama- 
tized without the consent of the owner of the copy- 
right. The copyright covers the book, or story, 
or article in its entirety, but does not protect the 
title of it. For example, let us suppose that you 
have written a book entitled, " The Career of 
John Smith." The copyright will prevent any 
one else from publishing a book, in whole or in 
part, similar to yours, but the owner of the copy- 
right cannot legally stop the use of the same title 
for any work which is not a copy of his. 

Reputable publishers, however, will not dupli- 
cate the title of a book. This, however, is oc- 
casionally done by accident. 

In several magazines and newspapers, there are 
appearing advertisements of so-called literary as- 
sociations, which, by indirection, circulate the 
impression that they have special facilities for 
copyrighting, and some of them state that Wash- 



176 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

ington is the only place where copyrights can be 
secured. The latter statement is correct, but ap- 
plication for copyright can be made by mail, and 
has to be made in writing anyway. There is ab- 
solutely no need of applying for it in person at 
the Copyright Office in Washington, by the au- 
thor or by his agent. There is no reason why the 
author should pay a fee beyond the dollar re- 
quired by the Government for the securing of a 
copyright. 

A copyright may be transferred by its owner, 
within the life of the copyright, by any instrument 
of writing. It is simply a bill-of-sale or convey- 
ance. This transfer should be registered in the 
Copyright Office. The party to whom a copy- 
right is transferred should send the original bill- 
of-sale or conveyance to the Copyright Office 
within three months of its execution. 

Copyrights may be bequeathed by will. 



CHAPTER XXX 

Quoting from Copyrighted Matter 

AUTHORS are cautioned against quoting 
from copyrighted matter to an extent exceed- 
ing a few words, without the consent of the owner 
of the copyright. 

While there is no established rule as to just 
how much one can use with impunity, the author 
is advised to obtain consent for the reproduction 
of copyrighted matter, if he quotes it to an extent 
of more than a short quotation. 

The author cannot, legally, take matter from 
one book or article of his own, unless he retains 
the copyright, and place it in another book or 
article, which is to be printed or published by 
other than the one owning the copyright. 

The manuscript of a book, if the copyright is 
held by its publisher, belongs to the publisher, 
and not to the author. He has no more rights 

to it than he would have if he were an outsider. 

177 



178 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Copyrighted matter is, technically speaking, 
merchandise; and the ownership of it is vested in 
the holder of the copyright, as much so as would 
be the proprietorship of a barrel of flour pur- 
chased by a customer. 

All rights to a manuscript, the copyright of 
which is owned by its publisher, are the publish- 
er's, subject only to the conditions of the con- 
tract between the publisher and the author. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

The Danger of Libel, 

THE author of any book, story, or article is 
jointly liable with the publisher of it, for any- 
thing which may be legally construed to be in- 
jurious or damaging to the party written about; 
and he or the publisher, or both of them, may be 
subjected to suit at law, resulting in fines or even 
imprisonment. 

Libel may exist even though the true names of 
the parties written about are not mentioned, if 
the inference is sufficient to locate them. 

Practically every contract made with book pub- 
lishers contains a clause which holds the author 
responsible for any damage which may result 
from the publication of his manuscript. This 
does not exempt the publisher from liability, but 
it holds the author co-responsible with him. 

Writers should use great care to avoid any 

complications. If their characters are drawn 

179 < 



180 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

from life, they should carefully disguise them, or 
else obtain their permission, particularly if what 
they say about them can be construed as injurious 
to their reputations or business. Not only is it 
well to use fictitious names, but the names of lo- 
calities should be changed if there appears to be 
opportunity for libel. When in doubt, authors 
should carefully avoid using verbatim any expres- 
sion which his characters have made in real life, 
or which would be sufficient to establish connection 
between them and what is said about them. 

If he allows his characters to do and say what 
is highly to their credit, he may not be in much 
danger; but even then, he should use due care. 
If it is necessary for him to print their real 
names, or to make them do or say what they have 
said and done, then he should be absolutely sure 
of his facts and be prepared to prove his state- 
ments in a court of law. 

While libel suits are an exception rather than 
the rule, and while comparatively few people care 
to subject themselves to the annoyance of a law- 
suit unless the statements made are directly li- 
belous, the author should be on his guard, and 



THE DANGER OF LIBEL 181 

should not place in his book anything which will 
injure the reputation of any honest person or 
persons. 

By judicious changing of names and of locali- 
ties, one may be permitted to say almost any- 
thing, and the value of the book or article is not 
lessened. 



CHAPTER XXXII 

The Price of a Book 

COMPARATIVELY few cloth-covered books 
retail for less than a dollar, the usual price 
for a novel, or work of fiction, being either a dol- 
lar, or a dollar and a quarter, or a dollar and a 
half, although a few books are listed at two dol- 
lars or even at three dollars. 

The publisher, not the author, determines the 
price, and it may have much to do with the sale 
of the book. 

It is obvious that, in most cases, more books 
will be sold at a dollar than at a higher price; 
therefore, ten per cent, of one dollar may bring 
more to the author than he would receive if the 
book was priced at a dollar and a quarter or 
higher. Circumstances govern the price. Some 
books will sell as well at a dollar and a half as 
they would if listed at a dollar. 

Children's stories are retailed at from twenty- 

182 



THE PRICE OF A BOOK 183 

five cents to a dollar, although a few of them are 
priced as high as a dollar and a half or two dol- 
lars, the latter figures applying only to books 
which are handsomely illustrated. 

Art works and De luxe editions may be mar- 
keted at any price, even as high as ten dollars 
for a single volume. 

Text-books retail from seventy-five cents to two 
dollars, but the average price is about a dollar. 

Paper-covered books are sold at fifteen, twenty- 
five, or fifty cents. I do not recall any retail- 
ing for more than half a dollar. 

The book publisher seldom receives the retail 
or list price of his product, as most of the books 
he publishes are sold to the bookstores, or to other 
publishers, at a trade discount of from twenty- 
five to forty per cent. The usual discount on a 
net book is twenty-five per cent., other books be- 
ing subject to thirty-three and one-third per cent, 
discount, and sometimes to forty per cent. This 
discount may not affect the author, who usually 
receives a royalty based upon the list or retail 
price. 

The reputable publisher does not sell any book 



184 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

at retail for less than the list price, but often 
the same book can be obtained at a department 
store at a discount of from ten to even fifty per 
cent. 

The flush sale of the average novel is limited 
to a year or two from date of publication. The 
publisher, then, legitimately cuts the price to 
those who buy a large number of copies. The 
department store, because it is a large purchaser, 
may obtain a hetetvy additional discount, which en- 
ables it to market the book at trade price, or even 
lower, and yet make a reasonable profit. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

Illustrations 

ABOUT a third of the books published, other 
than those in paper covers, and considerably 
more than half of the magazine articles and 
stories, are accompanied by one or several illus- 
trations, which are either what is known as half- 
tone engravings, or reproductions of line prints, 
or from pen and ink drawings. 

Half-tone engravings, or what are commer- 
cially known as half-tone cuts, are produced from 
photographs, either from nature, or from wash 
drawings, or from oil paintings. A photograph 
of the object is taken in the ordinary way. The 
same solution which is used in the making of photo- 
graph paper is placed upon the surface of a plate 
of copper or zinc. This metallic plate, with the 
photograph upon it, is placed in a trough re- 
sembling a small cradle on rockers. Sufficient 
185 



186 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

acid is poured into the cradle so that it will flow 
over the surface of the plate when the cradle 
is rocked. This acid eats between the lines of 
the photograph, but does not affect the photo- 
graph itself. Thus the plate is etched, and has 
a surface similar to that of type, although more 
shallow. 

In the making of half-tone plates, however, 
which are taken from photographs of objects 
which are not lined off or of indistinct lines, it is 
obvious that no printing result could be obtained 
if the picture was not broken up or separated 
into distinct parts, allowing for space between 
them. To accomplish this, the photograph is 
taken through a screen, which consists of a pane 
of glass, upon which are painted lines or dots, 
running from eighty to three hundred to the 
square inch. When the coarse screen is used, the 
plate may be printed in an ordinary newspaper, 
but fine half-tone engravings require coated paper 
or paper with a very hard surface. So-called 
line-engravings or cuts are made in the same way, 
except that no screen is used. 

Half-tone plates cost from fifteen to twenty- 



ILLUSTRATIONS 187 

five cents per square inch, and line-plates from 
eight to fifteen cents per square inch. 

Originally, all illustrations were engraved upon 
wood, the picture being drawn upon boxwood, 
which has the finest fiber, with a pencil, or else 
the object was photographed upon the wood it- 
self. The engraver, with a fine instrument, cuts 
between the lines. The cost of the woodcut, be- 
cause of the skill and time required in the making 
of it, was excessive, many book and magazine il- 
lustrations costing from fifty to even two or three 
hundred dollars. The woodcut is, to-day, prac- 
tically obsolete, and photo-engraving has super- 
ceded it, at an enormous saving of expense. An 
illustration which formerly cost from fifty to three 
hundred dollars to produce, can now be made, 
and have a much better appearance, for a few 
dollars. 

While coarse half-tone engravings may be 
printed upon book paper, they seldom appear in 
a book, most of the illustrations, unless line-cuts, 
being printed upon coated paper and inserted, 
which increases the cost of paper and binding. 

A few books are printed upon coated paper, 



188 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

but as a glazed or hard surface affects the eye, 
the text in most books is printed upon book 
paper. Line-illustrations may appear in the body 
of the book, on the regular book paper, as they do 
not require a coated surface. 

Several books are illustrated with one or more 
colored plates, which are produced by either what 
is known as the three-color printing process or by 
lithography. If the former method is used, the 
object is photographed through three colors of 
glass, and three half-tone plates are made, one 
from each photograph. These are printed in 
three colors of ink, one for each plate, and the 
colors of the ink blend upon the paper, reproduc- 
ing the actual colors of the original. 

This work is expensive, and the plates must be 
printed upon coated paper and inserted into the 
book. 

Lithography is occasionally used for book illus- 
trations. It is more expensive than is the three- 
color process, unless a large edition is printed. 

Lithographic work is produced by drawing a 
picture upon lithographic stone, requiring as many 
stones as thers are primary colors used. 



ILLUSTRATIONS 189 

Let us suppose, for example, that the picture 
is to be in six colors. That part of the picture, 
which is to appear in one color is drawn upon one 
stone, and so on until the work is completed. One 
color is printed at a time, and the finished prod- 
uct is similar to the original colored sketch or 
painting. The drawing upon stone is made with 
a pencil containing a greasy substance. The lines 
sink slightly into the stone but have very little 
raised surface, so little that one may not be able 
to distinguish the engraved stone from one unen- 
graved by passing his hand over the surface. 

The law of nature does not allow water to ad- 
here to grease, or grease to adhere to water. The 
lithographic press has two sets of rollers, one 
carrying ink, the other saturated with water. 
The stone passes under the wet rollers first, and 
the water does not interfere with what is drawn 
upon the stone, but clings exclusively to that part 
of the stone which is not engraved. Lithographic 
ink contains some oil, which prevents the ink 
from attaching itself to the parts of the stone 
which are wet, the ink being distributed wholly 
upon the engraved portions, which are impressed 



190 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

upon the paper in the same way that type print- 
ing is done. 

Occasionally the illustrations are printed upon 
Japanese, Chinese, or other thin paper, and 
tipped upon the pages by pasting the upper end 
of the picture onto the white page. 

Many books contain little corner illustrations, 
which are vignetted into the book, usually at the 
beginning of each chapter, and may be a part of 
initial letters. They may be printed upon any 
kind of paper. 

Mechanical drawings, which are usually in out- 
line, are inexpensive, and do not require the use 
of coated paper or that of a hard surface. 

It is evident that the expense of illustrating a 
book is considerable, not wholly because of the 
cost of the plates, but because they often require 
coated paper, which must be inserted into the 
book, and which increases the cost of binding. 

If the book is to be illustrated, other than by 
the reproduction of photographs, which the author 
may or may not supply, an artist is engaged by 
the publisher, who reads the manuscript, and un- 
der the joint direction of the publisher and author, 



ILLUSTRATIONS 191 

draws scenes or characters appearing in the book. 

Illustrations add materially to the sale of the 
book, and often justify the additional expense, 
but are not considered necessary to the average 
novel or work of fiction. 

Some publishers require the author of an illus- 
trated book to release his royalty upon a thousand 
or more copies, to meet the additional expense of 
illustration. 

Illustrations for articles or stories in magazines, 
and other periodicals, are printed upon the regu- 
lar body paper, which is usually of a hard sur- 
face, permitting the use of half-tone engravings. 

It is suggested that, if the author feels that il- 
lustrations would add materially to his work, he 
outline the subjects of them, and furnish the pub- 
lisher with photographs of scenes or persons to be 
reproduced. 

Photographs and negatives may be " doctored," 
so to speak, and even material changes made, 
which may affect the individuality or personality 
of the originals or be improvements. 

Photographs should be used whenever it is pos- 
sible to obtain them. If taken especially for the 



192 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

purpose, a photographer familiar with half-tone 
work should be employed, and, in any event, he 
should be told that his photographs are for re- 
production. As a rule, the photograph or sketch, 
should be larger than the reproduction of it, as a 
better result can be obtained by photographing 
down rather than by photographing up. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

The Reading of Proofs 

BOOK publishers invariably furnish the author 
with galley proofs of the manuscript, usu- 
ally a half dozen or more proofs at a time. Oc- 
casionally, however, the entire book is set, and 
the author receives the proof of the whole of 
it, with the exception of the index, if there be 
one. 

Galley proofs are long strips of paper, two or 
three feet in length, the type matter appearing 
in the center, with wide margins. These proofs 
represent the widtk of the page, but not the 
length. 

The author is supposed to read these proofs 
carefully and to make corrections upon the mar- 
gin. 

Because it is much easier to correct a proof in 
galley, than it is after the type is paged up, the 
193 



194 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

author should read the galley proofs with the ut- 
most care and attempt to make all of his correc- 
tions upon these proofs. After the type is put 
into pages, it is both difficult and expensive to 
make more than minor corrections. 

The galley proof can be of any length, and 
words or lines can be added or omitted, when to 
do so in the page proof might require the trans- 
position of several lines of type through several 
pages. 

Most book publishers allow the author to make 
corrections up to not exceeding twenty-five dol- 
lars worth, or ten per cent, of the cost of setting 
the type in the first place. For example, if it 
costs, say, three hundred dollars, to set the type 
for a book, the author may be allowed, for cor- 
rections, ten per cent, of three hundred dollars, 
or thirty dollars. If his corrections exceed that 
amount, he is charged the additional cost of mak- 
ing them. 

Many an author, through carelessness, has been 
obliged to pay for author's corrections more than 
the entire cost of the first setting of the book. 
Recently a friend of mine, an inexperienced author, 



THE READING OF PROOFS 195 

although one of the broadest education, was 
obliged to pay nearly double the cost of the orig- 
inal setting for the changes and corrections he 
made on both galley and page proofs. 

If the manuscript is typewritten, and carefully 
read, both by the author and by the one to whom 
he has submitted it, the author's corrections are 
not likely to exceed the amount allowed by the 
publisher. 

After the galley proofs have been corrected, the 
type matter is paged up, with running headings. 
For example, if the book bears a title of " John 
Smith, Merchant," the proofs of even pages will 
have at the top the line, " John Smith, Mer- 
chant," with the page number at the left of it. 
The right-hand pages will carry either a repeti- 
tion of the title of the book or the subject-matter 
of the chapter, followed by a page number. The 
page number may be placed at the bottom of the 
page. Occasionally a book is published without 
running headings. 

The publisher usually sends the page proofs to 
the author. These should be read with great care, 
and the author should remember that corrections 



196 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

made on page proofs, for the reason which I have 
already stated, are both difficult and expensive 
to make. 

If the author desires to change a word or sen- 
tence in the page proofs he may usually, if he be 
careful, make changes which will not require the 
running over of a line or lines into the following 
page or pages. 

Practically all books are electrotyped, and elec- 
trotype-proofs may be sent to the author for 
final revision. Minor corrections can be made 
upon them, but at large expense. 

The author's manuscript should be as near cor- 
rect as possibility admits, particularly if it is to be 
set on the linotype, which machine casts full lines, 
making corrections more difficult to handle than 
when the composition is done by hand or on a 
typesetting machine. Many books are set on the 
linotype, because it costs less, and the effect on 
the printed page is practically the same, unless 
coated or hard paper is used. 

The author is semiresponsible for spelling, punc- 
tuation, and paragraphing, but misspelled words, 
unless of a technical character, will undoubtedly 



THE READING OF PROOFS 197 

be corrected in the editorial department or by the 
compositor, and the making of these corrections 
not charged to the author. 

Each publisher, as a rule, has his own style of 
spelling words which admit of more than one spell- 
ing, of capitalization, paragraphing, and punc- 
tuation, and he is likely to follow it, irrespective 
of the manuscript, unless the work be purely tech- 
nical. 

Some publishers punctuate very freely, others 
do it sparingly. One publisher prefers many 
paragraphs, while another uses a less number. 
As there is no standard for punctuation or para- 
graphing, except that all styles follow a general 
rule, the author should not object to the styles 
maintained by his publisher. 

Every literary writer should understand the 
rudiments, at least, of proof-reading, so as to be 
able to correct his proof. 

The following pages present all of the proof- 
reading marks in common use. Although these 
marks vary slightly, all of those given will be 
readily understood by every compositor, printer, 
editor, and publisher. 



198 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

I will not go. n I WILL not go; 

William /lark. (5 William Black. 

B oston , Mass. ^ ♦ ^T^ Boston, Mass^ 

Boston Tribune. ' sH\CUl, Boston Tribune: 

Chicago Express. J^ O^rtA* Chicago Express. 

Co in to the hall. ^^ Go into the hall. 

Cow, ~v) 

Trai/s stop here. • Trains stop here. 

[Hundreds of dogs. Thousands of cats. *L Hundreds of dogs. 

^^ Thousands of cats. 



<f***Y~& **) 



THE READING OF PROOFS 199 

A Great /air. JC • C A great fair. 

('Low*** Cooa,^ 
f * 

£ He called him honorablel* \/ \/ « He called him - honorable M n 
Timothy Titcomb J. G. Holland. * I D Timothy Titcomb (J. G. Holland) 
Wendell Phillip^ Orations: J / Wendell Phillips : Orations. 

Stones grow/animals live.^ J / Stones grow; animals livey 

Fie, my lord/a soldier? / / Fie, my lord! a soldier* 

tfTwas Ca?sar., Ci& 'Twas C*csai\) 



200 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

I tol/you so. (J% f told you so. 

Tell me youroirfffname. 4 Q^ Tell me your name* 



Go to bed. Go to your bed. 



Where ishe? afeA" Where is Kef) 

A ^ 

Come with melquickly. JcfcAA nfe Come with me quickly* 

Go J Go J Co. \|l Go — Go— Go> 

Fish/ Fish/ Fish. I iL I Fish Fish Fish? 



THE READING OF PROOFS 201 

» Are you going? ™^ -M" Are you going ? AreyouwellT 1 



A«.re you going r <^ ,c j vu 6 V " 

■Are you well ? Cv \ 

50 pins, ^ ^* ♦ 

<Ys needles. -» f< WV* *** 50 pins, 25 needles, 75 thimbles: 

C75 thimbles. 

Go/d morning ! w f Good mornin g ' 

J don't ***** to go: J O&Ct ! don>t want t0 S°- 

Por^nd^ ± X For you and me. 

A selectionlsufficient for both of us. A sufficient selection for both of us. 

East^ndiVest. | \ East and West."' 

A school for^ racticaj )men. ^ ^C A P ractical school for men.. 



202 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 



T 



I Jove you/ Do you love me/ ©/// Hove you. Do you loveme > 
Some pens paper and ink. > A / Some pens, paper, and ink. 

Druggists sundries. ^f Druggists' sundries,, 



Hall's Romeo^ ^ >> Hal.'s « RomeoS 






A well wisher. — ' A well-wisher} 



t 



Teywrngo. (Str*^^ ^ They will go. 



jw*u vv A^**-»«^ 



Take Notice, 3~**^ fclTTake Notice. 



THE READING OF PROOFS 203 

The marks should be written in either of the 
margins, and not between the lines of type. If 
a considerable amount of matter is to be added, 
it is better not to write it upon the margin, but 
to cut the proof in two, — the addition to be writ- 
ten upon a piece of paper and pasted between the 
two ends of the severed proof. 



CHAPTER XXXV 

Books Published at the Author's Expense 

REPUTABLE publishers often publish, wholly 
or partly at the author's expense, books 
which would appear to have a small sale. First- 
class publishers, however, will not place upon the 
market any book discreditable to them. 

Thousands of books have seen the light of pub- 
lication, which could not be considered profitable. 
Let us suppose, for example, that you have made 
a study of some scientific subject, and desire to 
place the result of your labors in book form. If 
the subject is not one which will warrant a sale 
sufficient to pay the cost of publication and a fair 
profit to the publisher, any reputable publisher 
will consider the publication of the book if the 
author stands between him and loss, the author 
taking the whole or a part of the risk. When 
this is done, the publisher becomes the agent of 
the author and may pay him as much as twenty- 
five per cent, of the retail or list price. 
204 



BOOKS AT AUTHOR'S EXPENSE 205 

Occasionally an author, who is financially able, 
prefers to make this arrangement ; f.or, if the book 
is successful, his remuneration will be larger. 
But probably ninety-nine per cent, of books pub- 
lished are at the expense of the publisher, who 
assumes all risk. 

It is obvious that a publisher is more likely to 
push the sale of a book, if he is not guaranteed 
against loss. 

Under another chapter heading, I have pre- 
sented the methods used by disreputable pub- 
lishers, who almost invariably publish books at 
their authors' expense. 

If a reputable publisher considers the manu- 
script of value, and yet feels that its publication 
would be unprofitable to him, he will frankly ex- 
press himself to the author, and arrangements 
may be made with him for its publication, the 
author assuming the whole or a part of the risk. 

If several publishers refuse to publish a manu- 
script, except at the author's expense, the writer 
may be assured that either his manuscript is un- 
worthy of publication, or else that it is upon a 
subject which will not command a profitable sale. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

Complimentary Copies of Books 

CUSTOM, entirely without justification, al- 
lows the friends of an author to expect com- 
plimentary copies. 

Comparatively few of these persons realize that 
the author has to purchase every copy of the book 
he receives, with the exception of a few, and at 
the same price which the bookstore has to pay for 
them. 

If the book retails for a dollar net, the author 
must pay seventy-five cents per copy. If at a 
dollar gross, the author may purchase them at 
sixty-six and two-thirds cents per copy. 

To present a friend with an autograph copy 
of the book, the author must pay, out of his own 
pocket, from two thirds to three quarters of the 
retail price of the book. 

There is absolutely no reason why he should 
present these copies any more than should the 
206 



COMPLIMENTARY COPIES 207 

publisher or the bookstore keeper, or any more 
than should the grocer furnish his friends with 
complimentary cans of tomatoes or free bags of 
sugar. 

Unless the author is wealthy, he should frankly 
inform the friends who ask for copies of his book, 
that he has to pay for them in cold cash. Nothing 
but frankness, and the telling of the truth, will 
prevent misunderstanding, and sometimes rupture 
of friendship. 

The friend, as a rule, does not intend to put the 
author to any expense, but he is likely to have the 
mistaken idea that a complimentary copy of the 
book costs the author nothing. 

Consider your books, then, as merchandise. 
There is no more reason why you should give away 
copies of them than should the tradesman furnish 
his friends with free groceries or free shoes. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

Books in Libraries 

THE librarians of all leading and well-kept 
libraries carefully read the announcements 
of book publishers, and follow the reviews which 
appear in the magazines and newspapers. They 
recommend the purchase of books to their advisory 
or purchasing committees. 

As many as a thousand copies of a meritorious 
book may be sold to the libraries, some of them 
purchasing several copies. 

The sale of a book to the libraries adds much 
to the reputation of the writer, but may more or 
less materially effect its sale to the public. 

I recall one book in particular, which probably 
was read by more than two million holders of li- 
brary cards, and yet the actual sale of it was not 
more than five thousand. 

If there were any way of preventing the sale 
of a book to a library, it might be well for the 
208 



BOOKS IN LIBRARIES 209 

author to consider it; but as the library will pur- 
chase the books it wants, irrespective of the feel- 
ings of the author, this condition will continue 
to exist, and there would appear to be no way to 
prevent it. 

On the other hand, it is quite probable that 
several books have been sold, which would not have 
been if the books had not been on the public li- 
brary shelves. 

If the book is both valuable and popular, it is 
obvious that it is likely to be out most of the 
time. Those who have read it, either by pur- 
chasing it or by taking it from the library, will 
recommend it to their friends. If these friends 
are book buyers, this commendation may increase 
its sale. It is further evident, that many a per- 
son who would not otherwise purchase the book, 
will do so after he has failed several times to pro- 
cure it from the public library. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

The Advance Publication, or Republication, 
of Books, Stories, and Articles 

QUITE a number of books, stories, and ar- 
ticles appear, one chapter or section at a 
time, in the magazines or in the newspapers, be- 
fore or after they are placed on the market in 
book or other form. 

Although it would seem apparent to the un- 
initiated that the publication of a work in period- 
icals would effect the sale of it in book form, ex- 
perience shows that the opposite is true. 

Comparatively few book publishers will refuse 
to publish a manuscript which has appeared peri- 
odically in the magazines or newspapers, because 
of such publication; in fact, most of them will 
consider it a selling advantage. 

Then, many manuscripts are published peri- 
odically after they have appeared in book form. 
210 



ADVANCE PUBLICATION 211 

This, strange as it may seem, is likely to increase 
the sale of the book. 

Of course, this syndicating must be done with 
the consent of the book publisher, and he may or 
may not share in the profits. 

A manuscript may be submitted to the book 
publisher, with periodical or syndicate rights re- 
served to the author, or the book publisher may 
own the periodical or syndicate rights and share 
the money received with the writer. 

The writer of a really meritorious work of fic- 
tion may obtain an extra income by allowing his 
manuscript to be published in one or more period- 
icals or newspapers before it appears in book 
form. Hundreds of successful books are placed 
upon the market after the story has been pub- 
lished in a magazine or other periodical, or in 
several newspapers. 

A magazine, as a rule, will not publish matter 
which has appeared in any other form, but the 
publisher does not usually object to the appear- 
ance of it in a book after it has been published 
in the magazine. The magazine publisher will 
not accept a manuscript if it is to appear simul- 



212 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

taneously in any other publication. The news- 
paper, however, does not object to simultaneous 
publication in several others, if they are not lo- 
cated in the same territory, of an acceptable man- 
uscript, whether or not it is eventually to appear 
in book form. 

In another chapter I have explained the proc- 
ess of syndicating. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

The Linotype, Monotype, and Typesetting 
Machine 

FORMERLY all books, magazines, and news- 
papers were printed from type which was 
hand-set. The invention of the Linotype, Mono- 
type, and typesetting machine has revolutionized 
printing. 

Although many books are now hand-set, and 
from movable type, in the old-fashioned way, quite 
a number are set by machine, with good results, 
although the quality obtained may not equal that 
from hand-set type. 

The Linotype operator manipulates a key- 
board similar to that of the typewriter, and the 
machine automatically casts complete lines. 

The Monotype differs from the Linotype in 

that it automatically casts and sets individual 

pieces of type. The operator uses a keyboard, 

and as each key is depressed an impression is 
213 



214 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

made upon a sheet of revolving paper. This is 
run through the type-casting machine, and the 
type is automatically cast and set. 

The typesetting machine uses ordinary type, 
made for the purpose, and the operator uses a 
keyboard. 

Unless the book is to be printed upon coated or 
hard paper, it is often difficult for the layman to 
distinguish the difference between machine-set 
work and that done by hand. 

Electrotypes from hand-set type, however, are 
usually better, and will last longer, than those 
made with the type which is set automatically. 

Machine work, of course, is much more econom- 
ical ; and as it answers the purpose in many cases, 
it is very much in vogue. 



CHAPTER XL 

Electrotyping and Stereotyping 

PRACTICALLY all books are printed from 
electrotype or stereotype plates, although 
comparatively few books are stereotyped, the 
electrotype being used almost universally. 

Plates are made for four reasons: first, to save 
the wear of the type; secondly, because a very 
much larger edition may be printed from electro- 
types than is possible from type; thirdly, because 
type forms are unsafe, as some letters may drop 
out while in the press ; and, fourthly, because it 
would be altogether too expensive to hold a book 
in type. By the use of electrotype plates sub- 
sequent editions, up to even two or three hundred 
thousand, may be printed at short notice. 

The process of electrotyping is as follows: An 
impression is taken in wax of the type form. The 
surface of the wax is dusted with graphite, the 
material which is used for the making of pencils, 
and which is of almost microscopic fineness. As 
215 



216 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

graphite is metallic, it is a conductor of electric- 
ity. The wax matrix, or mold, with the graphite 
upon it, which only covers the surface, is placed 
in a bath of acid, and is connected by wire with 
the negative pole of the battery. A piece of 
sheet copper is submerged, and attached to a wire 
leading to the positive pole of the battery. The 
electricity passes from the copper to the mold 
covered with graphite. This process continues 
until a copper plate of sufficient thickness to 
handle is produced. It is then backed with lead, 
mounted on wood or blocks made of other mate- 
rial, and is then ready for printing. 

The art of stereotyping consists of making a 
mold of the type in plaster of Paris or papier- 
mache. Papier-mache, when moist, is of about the 
same consistency as a spit-ball. It is placed upon 
the type form and beaten in with brushes, pro- 
ducing a mold into which molten lead is poured. 

This process is seldom used for books or for 
job printing, and is maintained principally by 
newspapers, where speed is of more consequence 
than quality. The result is far inferior to that 
obtained from electrotyping. 



CHAPTER XLI 

The Value of Experience and Timeliness 

IF a single individual could carry in storage 
all of the book learning in the world, and 
had a memory which would retain everything, 
from columns of figures to historical dates, he 
would not, from the possession of this knowledge 
alone, be a good producer of anything save that 
pertaining to the purely technical or statistical, 
and even then I doubt if he could produce any 
work worthy of publication. 

Experience, with the fundamentals of educa- 
tion as a working basis, is of tremendous impor- 
tance, and without it learning has little or no 
usable value. 

While a few writers, like a few actors, leap into 
almost instantaneous fame, comparatively few 
ever meet success until they have passed through 
years of hard experience, and have not only seen, 
but felt, conditions. 

217 



218 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

A single ocean trip in a floating hotel is not 
sufficient for the writing of a nautical story. A 
personally conducted tour into the catacombs does 
not give the traveler a sufficient grasp upon 
ancient history to enable him to write a historical 
novel. 

Experience of the broadest kind is necessary 
for every result of more than ordinary accom- 
plishment; and with it, special experience, if the 
subject be out of the ordinary. 

Further, one must not only experience expe- 
rience, but he must be able to put the result of ex- 
perience upon paper in a way which will be satis- 
factory to the reader. He has two things to do: 
First, he must become familiar, not by hearsay, 
but by actual contact, with the things which he is 
to write about; and, secondly, by experience of 
them and among them, he must learn how to 
write about what he knows. The mere accumu- 
lation of knowledge, or of experience, is insuffi- 
cient. There must be that further experience in 
handling experience. 

While all of the later books by an author may 
not show improvement, the chances are that the 



THE VALUE OF EXPERIENCE 219 

last book, or one of the last ones, will be his best, 
unless he overwrites and is too prolific, which 
condition occasionally occurs. 

I have in mind two writers of boys' books, who 
obtained international fame from their first dozen 
volumes, and lost half of it by continuing to 
write when they had outwritten themselves. Their 
later works so closely resembled their former 
books that they received little commendation. 
Their plots became alike, their characters the 
same. They simply produced a conglomeration 
of words, set in short paragraphs, with conversa- 
tions liberally interspersed, but said nothing and 
made their characters do nothing, except what 
they had said before and what had been done be- 
fore. 

Both for fame and for money, it is better to 
produce a fewer number of books or stories, than 
to attempt to flood the market with similar pro- 
ductions. 

It has been said that there is just so much in 
a man, — that the brain contains a limited num- 
ber of cells, and that, theoretically, all of them 
may be exhausted. While this is not true scien- 



220 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

tifically, it would seem to apply to prolific writers, 
and to take away from them the fame of their 
earlier productions. 

Quality, rather than quantity, pays the best 
dividends. 

Let us suppose, for example, that a certain au- 
thor has obtained a great success because of his 
mystery stories. Primarily these books sold be- 
cause the public thought them worth reading. 
This writer may have little difficulty in obtaining 
the publication of a manuscript much below the 
average grade, provided it does not wholly lack in 
merit. A large number of readers will buy his 
book because of his reputation. By intrinsic 
quality, he has gained their approval, and be- 
cause of it, the public will purchase and read 
everything which he writes. But it is obvious 
that his best books will sell the best. Still the 
sale of his second quality will be sufficiently large 
to justify its publication. 

The seasonableness of the book is an important 
item. If, for example, the newspapers are filled 
with accounts of the loss of several hundred lives 



THE VALUE OF EXPERIENCE 221 

by the foundering of a great ocean liner, every 
one is reading, or has read, these accounts. A 
book, then, describing an ocean disaster, would 
have a sale, because the subject is opportune; and 
this book, although rather indifferently written, 
may be a greater seller than it would have been 
if it had not had the advertising value of the re- 
cent ocean horror. 

Another example: Let us suppose that trade 
unionism is being discussed in every newspaper, 
that legions of lecturers are commending or con- 
demning the organization of labor; the subject is 
timely, and the public will read almost anything 
fairly well put together, which presents the rela- 
tions of capital to labor. 

It is difficult, however, to anticipate these 
events, and almost as hard to produce a book be- 
fore the excitement has waned; but if the author 
has a manuscript completed or nearly so, he is 
likely to find a market for it, which would not as 
readily meet him under ordinary conditions. 

The production of something new, or an origi- 
nal treatment of a pertinent subject, often ere- 



222 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

ates a market. The very originality of the man- 
uscript will give it a prestige even beyond its 
literary merits. 

It has been said that the average editor or lit- 
erary adviser or reader is biased in favor of the 
well-known or popular author, and will accept a 
manuscript from him, and turn down one equally 
good, or even a better one, from an unknown 
writer. This is probably true, to an extent, at 
least, partly because many so-called readers of 
manuscript are incompetent, and, further, be- 
cause it is extremely difficult to weigh literary 
values. Then, commercialism comes in, and plays 
havoc with the young or unknown author. 

So long as many readers will refuse to pur- 
chase a book unless it is written by a popular au- 
thor, or by one of reputation, it is evident that 
the publisher takes less financial risk when he 
publishes a manuscript of ordinary quality by an 
acceptable author, than he would take in putting 
out a better book by an author entirely unknown 
or little known. 

There appears to be no remedy in sight. So 
long as financial profit must be considered, the pub- 



THE VALUE OF EXPERIENCE 223 

lisher will give preference to the manuscript which 
will sell, provided its quality is not low enough to 
injure his reputation. 

Thousands of manuscripts, representing years 
of labor, and containing matter of great benefit 
to the world, never see the light of publication, 
because they would be unprofitable financially. 
They must be published, then, at the author's ex- 
pense, or at the expense of philanthropists or 
friends. Of this I have spoken in another chap- 
ter. 

I would suggest, at this point, that here is a 
truly philanthropic opportunity, — for men of 
wealth to endow a publishing house, so that it may 
publish manuscripts of unusual merit, which 
would be of great benefit to the world at large, 
and yet would be unprofitable as money-makers. 

Many books would receive an enormous read- 
ing at the libraries, and yet would not sell to any 
large extent. They would be available to those 
who needed them and yet could not afford to pur- 
chase them. For this reason they are not profit- 
able publishing propositions. 

The thought of the world should be concen- 



224 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

trated between covers, but so long as commercial- 
ism must govern the publication of books, just so 
long will much of the inner brain of man be un- 
able to find typographical expression, especially 
those thoughts which appeal to the higher in- 
stincts, and not to the pocketbook. 

Therefore, do not hope for recognition until 
you have experience. With it you may accom- 
plish much; without it there is little to be ex- 
pected. 

Experience goes hand in hand with ability. 
Either by itself is insufficient to produce accept- 
able result. 



CHAPTER XLII 

Syndicate Writers 

DURING the last few years, there has been 
established an entirely new department of 
journalism and of general writing, technically 
known as the syndicate. 

More than seventy-five per cent, of the special 
articles and stories appearing in the daily news- 
papers are furnished by these syndicates. 

The syndicate maintains an office of its own, 
has its managers and editors. It covers every 
department of literature and of newspaper work, 
including news and even book manuscripts, but 
not the publication of the books themselves. 

The syndicate purchases of authors, and of 
writers of every class, anything which would be 
of interest to newspaper readers, and sells copies 
of it to the newspapers. 

The matter, whether it is a short story or a 

serial, or a special article, or even news itself, is 
225 



226 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

set in type, and proofs of it sent to the newspa- 
pers. 

The newspaper purchases this matter at speci- 
fied price, per column or page, setting the matter 
in its own composing room; or it may, in many 
cases, obtain stereotyped plates or matrices, which 
reduces the expense of composition. 

There is no standard price for syndicate mat- 
ter. It is sold for what it appears to be worth, 
with an additional price for furnishing it in the 
form of stereotypes or in matrix, and at aston- 
ishingly low figures. The stereotype plates of an 
entire page of seven columns can be purchased for 
a few dollars, with a rebate of fifty per cent, upon 
return of the plates, which are melted up, and the 
metal used over again. 

Matrices, which are made of papier-mache, and 
from which any paper carrying a stereotyping 
plant can cast, are very inexpensive. 

Syndicate writers receive, as a rule, rather 
mere than would be paid them by any one news- 
paper. Let us suppose, for example, that a syn- 
dicate purchases an article at a certain price; 
it offers it to the newspapers, either in the form 



SYNDICATE WRITERS 227 

of proofs, or in plates, or in matrix. If in the 
form of proof, it charges the newspaper for its 
use anywhere from fifty cents to three hundred 
dollars, the average price for a column article 
hardly exceeding a dollar and a half. 

The newspaper, then, obtains quite an accept- 
able article at not far from one twenty-fifth of 
what it would have to pay if the article was writ- 
ten especially for it. While the average price 
paid by the newspaper does not exceed a dollar 
and a half a column, occasionally very high prices 
are paid for syndicate matter. 

I recall a series of humorous articles, each of 
which occupied about a column. The author ob- 
tained about twelve hundred dollars for each of 
them, and the newspapers paid from twenty-five 
to three hundred dollars per article. 

The discoverer of the North Pole, for example, 
would experience little difficulty in getting from 
five hundred to a thousand dollars for a single 
chapter of his story, and each newspaper publish- 
ing it would pay from twenty-five to two hundred 
and fifty dollars for the privilege of using it. 

The newspaper frequently purchases exclusive 



228 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

rights for its own city, and when it does so it pays 
more, per column, than it would if the matter was 
" at large." 

Syndicates purchase newspaper rights to a 
story, either before or after it is published in 
book form; and the book appears, chapter by 
chapter, in the newspapers which subscribe for it. 

There is no standard price for the author. So 
far as I know, the largest sum ever paid for the 
newspaper-publication rights to a book was a dol- 
lar a word, but I doubt if this has been given to 
more than two authors. Usually the syndicate 
pays from one hundred to two hundred dollars for 
the newspaper rights to a book, which sum is di- 
vided between the book publisher and the au- 
thor. 

Strange as it may seem, the publication of fic- 
tion in the newspapers, before or after its appear- 
ance in book form, increases, rather than decreases, 
the sale of the book; and many book publishers 
are anxious to have some of their books appear, 
chapter by chapter, in the newspapers, either be- 
fore or after book publication. 

The syndicate -offers the special writer more 



SYNDICATE WRITERS 229 

remuneration than he can possibly receive from 
any one newspaper, provided that he has the abil- 
ity to produce something which is acceptable to 
newspaper readers, and is seasonable, and appears 
to have a special value to each community, al- 
though it is published in a hundred different 
places. 

Some authors maintain their own syndicates, 
handling the matter themselves, and with success ; 
but, as this is an age of specialization, they come 
in direct competition with the great syndicate 
companies, who can easily furnish plates and ma- 
trices. I do not think that the majority of these 
writers do as well as they would if they sold their 
matter direct to the syndicate companies. 

Several of the great newspapers maintain syn- 
dicates of their own. For example, a Chicago 
paper runs a series of articles, or stories, or hu- 
morous illustrations with text, the matter being 
written or drawn by a member of its staff. The 
matter, illustrated or otherwise, is made up into 
pages, and the paper furnishes a certain number 
of papers, one to a city, with matrices of the page 
or pages, the expense being proportioned between 



230 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

the papers subscribing, the paper originating the 
matter naturally making a profit. 

Two or more pages in every great newspaper 
are produced or obtained in this way. The writ- 
ers receive practically what would be given them 
by any syndicate. 

While the syndicate is labor-saving and money- 
saving, and represents progression and modern 
efficiency, and while it enables the author to ob- 
tain more for his work, it is obvious that it ma- 
terially cuts down the demand for special articles 
and stories. By its use, the newspapers, which 
otherwise would have to pay individual market 
prices for miscellany and stories, can obtain just 
as good material for about ten per cent, of what 
it would cost if it were not for the syndicate. 

I could not consistently give the names of the 
leading syndicate companies, but the editor of any 
good newspaper would undoubtedly furnish 
them to inquirers. 

Some syndicate companies pay a royalty, based 
upon the sale of the articles. They send out an 
announcement of it, with price given, and pay the 
author from ten to twenty-five per cent, of the re- 



SYNDICATE WRITERS 231 

ceipts of the sale of that particular matter, but 
most of the articles used by syndicates are pur- 
chased outright. 

The syndicates give preference to humorous or 
to illustrated stories and articles, and pay higher 
prices for them than for others. To be accept- 
able they must be seasonable or sensational, yet 
there is an increasing demand for good literature. 



CHAPTER XLIII 

Paper-Covered Books 

ON the news-stands are displayed hundreds, 
if not thousands, of paper-covered books, 
retailing at from ten to fifty cents. Many of them 
are merely republications of old books, upon which 
the copyright has expired. Others were written 
especially for this purpose. 

The so-called dime or yellow novel belongs to 
this class. Comparatively few books of real char- 
acter and merit, except those which have been pub- 
lished before, appear in paper form. 

The books which first see the light between paper 
covers are usually written by what are known as 
" hack writers, 55 most of whom produce improb- 
able and inconsistent dialogue. Their only merit 
appears to be vested in the vast volume of their 
sensationalism and improbability. The writer 
may exercise but little care, and pay less atten- 
tion to detail or to consistency. He may be said 
232 



PAPER-COVERED BOOKS 233 

to write his story upon a roll of wall paper, and to 
cut the paper with a knife or ax when a sufficient 
number of words has been written. 
P I know of a few very able authors, and men of 
liberal education, who, for financial reasons, pro- 
duce this sort of stuff. 

The sale of these books is enormous, and even 
though the author may receive only a small 
royalty, it is probable that, in some cases, his 
financial returns are greater than they would be if 
he confined himself to a higher grade of literature. 

One of the most prolific writers has produced a 
series of detective stories, which are unworthy of 
the paper which they spoil. He writes at arm's 
length, so to speak, and gives little attention to the 
formation of the plot or to the unraveling of his 
complexities. His books contain words, words, 
words. Yet he is a man of refinement and liberal 
education, one who could produce, if he would, 
high-class matter. 

Another instance, which will interest the reader: 
Some years ago there appeared in one of the so- 
called popular magazines, a series of detective ar- 
ticles written by a writer unknown to literary 



234 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

fame. This writer possessed a remarkable insight 
into detective methods. His works showed unu- 
sual ability. True, some of his plots and situa- 
tions were exaggerated, and there was a sort of 
coarseness to his work, which the critical reader 
could not avoid seeing; yet there was an under- 
current of remarkable talent. 

The literary adviser to one of our leading book 
publishers called upon this author, and told him 
that, if he would carefully write his books, and not 
produce more than two or three a year, he would 
obtain for him strong literary recognition. The 
author puffed tranquilly at his cigar, and replied: 
" I don't want fame. Money's good enough for 
me. I can turn out several thousand words a day ; 
get my money for 'em. What's the use of repu- 
tation? My way's the easiest way, and the most 
remunerative." 

While ninety-nine per cent, of the so-called yel- 
low stuff, — I use the term stuff advisedly, — is a 
menace, and I believe that it should be suppressed, 
I must admit that a certain amount of talent is 
necessary for its production. Where this talent 
exists, I would advise the writer to sacrifice money 



PAPER-COVERED BOOKS 235 

for a good reputation. If he can succeed in man- 
ufacturing worthless matter, although there is a 
demand for it, the same effort given to producing 
real literature would probably result in a sufficient 
income to justify good work. 



CHAPTER XLIV 

The Selung Value of Reputation 

SEVERAL conditions go to make a successful 
book: First, the majority of good sellers 
reach success because of their intrinsic merit. 
Comparatively few books, even by the greatest au- 
thors, enjoy more than a limited sale, unless they 
are of high quality. While there are few excep- 
tions, and while the author's reputation may carry 
a book of mediocre character, it may be said that 
the selling value of every book is based fundamen- 
tally upon the quality of the book itself. Do not 
allow yourself to feel that, because you are un- 
known, your manuscript will be turned down if it 
contains sufficient quality. If what the reading 
public demands is in your work and if your style, 
character drawing, and formation of plot are good, 
the chances are your manuscript will be published, 
although many publishers may refuse to accept it. 
Merit, or quality, may be considered the first 

requisite. 

236 



SELLING VALUE OF REPUTATION 237 

Secondly, it is an undisputed fact that the 
author's reputation or selling value counts might- 
ily, and that the average publisher will often ac- 
cept a manuscript of fair quality from a popular 
writer, or from one of great reputation, when he 
would not be willing to publish it if an unknown 
name appeared as its author. Commercialism, un- 
fortunately, does not play a minor part on the 
stage of literature. Publishers are in business for 
profit and it is obvious that they cannot avoid con- 
sidering the salableness of the manuscript as well 
as the quality of it, and will, therefore, publish 
many a work which would never see the light if it 
were submitted to them by an unknown writer. 
This condition, however, should not discourage the 
embryo author. If he has the right kind of stuff 
in him, he will succeed eventually, although he may 
not be able to escape the travail of disappoint- 
ment, discouragement, and long-waiting. The 
cream usually rises to the top, unless unforeseen 
conditions interfere. 

The young writer, then, must be prepared to 
wait, and, perhaps, a long time, for recognition. 
He must realize that merit alone is not sufficient 



238 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

to justify the publisher in accepting his work. 
By merit he must obtain what may be called a 
commercial, as well as a literary, reputation; but 
no reputation can be kept intact unless it is 
founded upon real quality. 

While this condition is discouraging to the 
would-be writer, it exists not wholly unfairly. 
Reputation, especially one which may be marketed, 
must be earned; and nothing is obtained in this 
world without strenuous, earnest, and faithful en- 
deavor, and the consumption of time. 

The successful writer has gained his reputation 
and position by beginning at the bottom and by 
rising step by step. No matter how successful 
he may become, he reached the top, or obtained 
a place near the top, by passing through dis- 
couragement, and by overcoming the obstacles 
which are strewn upon every literary path. 

Occasionally one book places an author in the 
front rank, but usually it does not bring him more 
than a limited recognition, unless he has produced 
several meritorious works. It is a question of 
time as well as of ability. 

Literary fame and fortune do not always come 



SELLING VALUE OF REPUTATION 239 

to him who waits, but they seldom arrive with the 
earlier efforts, and do not often appear to be in 
evidence until the author has produced several 
works of quality. 



CHAPTER XLV 

The Income of Book Writers 

THE publishers of America, including the pub- 
lishers of text-books, schoolbooks, but not of 
paper-covered novels, issue every year about ten 
thousand books, including new editions. 

There are published annually, between book 
covers, about a thousand works of fiction or novels, 
retailing at from one to two dollars, most of the 
novels being listed at a dollar and a quarter, or at 
a dollar and a half, quite a number at a dollar, 
and a few at two dollars or more. Several hun- 
dred text-books or schoolbooks are published an- 
nually. 

The sale of the average novel or work of fic- 
tion, in book form, is very much less than what 
is popularly supposed. I think that the majority 
of books of fiction have a sale rather under than 
over two thousand. When a book reaches the 
ten thousand mark it is considered a remarkable 
240 



THE INCOME OF BOOK WRITERS 241 

success, A very few books have had a sale of 
half a million, and a very much smaller number 
have enjoyed a circulation of from three quarters 
of a million to a million. 

The first-class book publisher has submitted to 
him from a thousand to two thousand manuscripts 
a year, and he accepts from ten to possibly twenty- 
five per cent, of them. As there are a small num- 
ber of book publishers, and as the prolificness of 
the would-be book writer is as speedy as the ac- 
tivity of the incubator, — for he collectively 
writes several thousand manuscripts a year, — it 
is evident that one may not hope to receive a very 
large return, if his books are published, — not 
more than a hundred dollars, or a few hundred 
dollars, for each manuscript. 

Accurate statistics are impossible, because, al- 
though each book publisher may decline as many 
as two thousand manuscripts a year, practically 
all rejected manuscripts are submitted to other 
publishers, and a part of them accepted in time, 
but probably eighty-five per cent, of them are 
never published. 

The text-book or schoolbook publisher usually 



242 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

pays a royalty, based upon the list or retail price 
of the book, of from six to ten per cent. 

Several hundred thousand copies of a single 
text-book have been sold, but it is probable that 
the average text-book does not enjoy a sale of 
more than a few thousand copies, and many are 
complete failures. Text-books have, however, one 
advantage over works of fiction, for the sale of 
them is likely to increase after five or more years 
have elapsed, while from fifty to ninety per cent, 
of the sale of novels occurs within a year of pub- 
lication. 

Although many novels or works of fiction con- 
tinue to be sold by the publishers to the public 
at list price, the average book publisher will un- 
load the book, so to speak, as soon as he finds that 
the flush of the sale has passed. He sells the 
novel to department and other stores at a heavy 
discount, and these stores retail it at a price often 
lower than the regular wholesale price of the 
book. 

The public does not have to pay list price for 
more than a comparatively few novels, after they 
have been on the market more than a year or two, 



THE INCOME OF BOOK WRITERS 243 

and this condition may or may not effect the roy- 
alty paid to the author. 

This subject is treated further in the chapter 
headed, " The Income of Magazine and Newspa- 
per Story or Fiction Writers," and in other chap- 
ters. 



CHAPTER XLVI 

The Incomes of Magazine and Newspaper 
Writers 

HIGH-CLASS magazines, and other period- 
icals carrying stories, pay about a hundred 
dollars for a short story written by a well-known 
author, and as much as two hundred dollars, or 
even up to a thousand dollars, if the matter has 
unusual merit, and is by an author of national 
reputation, and one who possesses the ability to 
produce salable composition. 

The unknown author will receive from ten to 
twenty-five dollars for a short story, if it possesses 
considerable merit. 

Serial stories, appearing in magazines, bring 
from a hundred dollars to as much as three thou- 
sand dollars, if the work is of unusual quality, 
and the author well known to the reading pub- 
lic. 

244 



INCOMES OF WRITERS 245 

The average magazine receives from one to five 
hundred manuscripts a month, and as none of these 
publications carry more than a dozen stories or 
articles in a single issue, it is obvious that a very 
large percentage of the manuscripts submitted 
are rejected. 

The author will probably submit his rejected 
manuscript to other magazines, but even then, it is 
doubtful if more than five per cent, will be pub- 
lished. 

Some publications pay by the word, seldom less 
than half a cent a word, and from that up to 
twenty-five cents a word, five cents a word being 
considered a fair price for an acceptable manu- 
script. 

I recall one case, which was very exceptional, 
where the author received a dollar a word for a 
series of short stories; but the publisher purchas- 
ing the manuscript syndicated the stories so that 
probably no one publisher of them paid more than 
five to ten cents a word. 

The majority of short ' stories and articles ap- 
pearing in newspapers are either copied from other 
periodicals, — frequently from those published 



246 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

abroad, — or else are contributed without cost by 
the writers of them. 

Many a specialist on lines as various as art or 
science and philanthropy, as philology and social- 
ism, is glad to write an article for the promotion 
of his special subject without remuneration. 

In another chapter I have spoken of the remu- 
neration received by book writers. 



CHAPTER XLVII 

The Remuneration Received by the Favored 
Few 

WITH the distinct understanding that com- 
paratively few writers ever enjoy more 
than a moderate income from the work of their 
pens, and as an encouragement to young writers, 
I would speak of a few authors who have amassed 
fortunes. 

It is said that Sir Walter Scott received nearly 
a million dollars for his stories, and that Mark 
Twain's books and writings brought him a for- 
tune of a million and a half. 

It is currently thought that Alphonse Daudet 
received twenty thousand dollars for a single 
novel. 

I have heard that General Lew Wallace's royal- 
ties on " Ben-Hur " and " The Prince of India " 
aggregated nearly four hundred thousand dollars. 
247 



248 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

Mrs. Humphrey Ward's " David Grieve " and 
" Marcella " may have brought her over seventy- 
five thousand dollars. 

Rumor says that Victor Hugo was paid eighty 
thousand for " Les Miserables." 

Hall Caine is reported to have received a check 
for " The Christian " for fifty thousand dollars ; 
and Dr. A. Conan Doyle is reported to have en- 
joyed royalties aggregating three hundred and 
fifty thousand dollars from one of his novels. 

" Trilby " is said to have brought its author, 
Du Maurier, several hundred thousand dollars. 

I have heard that Rider Haggard will not write 
a story for less than ten thousand dollars. 

Booth Tarkington and Richard Harding Davis 
may receive twenty-five cents a word, and it is 
quite probable that Rudyard Kipling obtained as 
much as a dollar a word for some of his writings. 

Margaret Deland, Mary J. Holmes, Amelia E. 
Barr, Anna Katherine Green, Kate Douglass 
Wiggin, Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, Frances 
Hodgson Burnett, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Harriet 
Prescott Spofford, and a few others, have enjoyed 
large incomes from their works. 



THE FAVORED FEW 249 

E. Phillips Oppenheim, the mystery-story 
writer, is supposed to earn twenty-five thousand 
dollars a year. 

Practically all of these authors are fiction 
writers, but it is obvious that few, or none of 
them, reached fame, or obtained high prices for 
their works, at the start. 

Age does not appear to make any material dif- 
ference. Dickens was not twenty-five years old 
when he wrote " Pickwick Papers," and Richard 
Watson Gilder, Frank H. Converse, John Howard 
Payne, George Alfred Townsend, Thomas Hard- 
ing, Jules Verne, Rider Haggard, J. M. Barrie, 
Dr. Doyle, Grant Allen, and George Meredith be- 
came famous when quite young. 

The author of " Don Quixote " did not finish 
the second part of his work until he was sixty- 
eight years old, and De Foe wrote " Robinson 
Crusoe " at the age of fifty-eight. 

George Eliot, one of the most successful novel- 
ists which the world has produced, did not begin 
her story-writing until she was forty years of 
age. 

Do not lose sight, however, of the fact that 



250 THE ART OF STORY WRITING 

these authors were Hamlets on the Stage of Litera- 
ture, and that few may hope to play leading roles. 

There is fame and fortune at the top, some fame 
and less fortune in the middle, and little, very 
little of either at the bottom. 

But there is no Royal Road to Literature or to 
anything else worth while. 



CHAPTER XLVIII 

Records of Manuscripts 

IT IS suggested that the author keep a manu- 
script record, and enter in it the title of every 
article or story which he sends out, with the date 
of sending and the name of the publisher to whom 
the article or story is sent ; otherwise, he may for- 
ward a manuscript to a publisher who has rejected 
it, and would not be able to keep track of his 
manuscripts. 

The following form is presented: 



No. 


Date 


Manuscript 


Words 


Sent to 


Postage 

or 
Express 


Published 


1 


Jan. 1, 
1913 


"Vermont 
Folks " 


55, 000 


Sully & 

Kleinteich 
373 Fourth 
Ave.,N. Y. 


.30 


Feb. 1, 1913 



THE END 
251 



INDEX 



Advance publication or re- 
publication of books, 
stories, and articles, 210. 

Adventure, stories of, 28. 

Agencies, literary, 94. 

Articles, advance publication 
or republication of, 210. 

Articles, illustrating of, 185. 

Articles, special, 45. 

Articles, syndicating, 225. 

Author's expense, books pub- 
lished at, 204. 

A word at the start, Pref- 
ace. 

B 

Book, name of, 87. 

Book, number of words in 
a, 133. 

Book or story, name of, 87. 

Book, price of a, 182. 

Book publisher, how a manu- 
script is received and 
handled by a, 136. 

Book publishers, contracts 
with, 149. 

Book, size of, 129. 

Book writers, income of, 240. 

Books, illustrating of, 185. 

Books in libraries, 208. 

Books in paper covers, 232. 

Books published at the 
author's expense, 204. 

Books, stories, and articles, 



advance publication and 
re-publication of, 210. 

Books, syndicating, 225. 

Bureaus, literary, 94. 



Career, literary, 1. 
Children's stories, 35. 
Comedies, 58. 
Complimentary copies of 

books, 206. 
Contract forms used by 

book publishers, 149. 
Contracts with book publisn- 

ers, 149. 
Copying manuscripts, 110. 
Copyrighted matter, quoting 

from, 177. 
Copyrighting, 172. 



Danger of libel, 179. 
Detective stories, 33. 
Disreputable publishers, 163. 
Dramas, 58. 

E 

Electrotyping and stereotyp- 
ing, 215. 

Engravings, 185. 

Entering a literary career, 1. 

Experience, the value of, 
217. 



253 



21 I. 

Extravaganzas, 58. 



254 



INDEX 



Farcical comedies, 58. 
Fiction writing, 6. 

H 

How a manuscript is re- 
ceived and handled by a 
book publisher, 136. 

How to send a manuscript, 
120. 

Humorous writing, 39. 



Illustrating of books and 

articles, 185. 
Income of book writers, 240. 
Incomes of magazine and 

newspaper writers, 244. 



Manuscript, preparation of, 

98. 
Manuscripts, copying them, 

110. 
Manuscripts, rejected, 126. 
Manuscripts, revising, 115. 
Melodramas, 58. 
Monologues, 58. 
Monotype, 213. 
Motion picture plays, 84. 
Mystery stories, 31. 

N 

Name of a book or story, 
87. 

Newspaper writers, the in- 
comes of, 244. 

Novels, 6. 

Number of words in a book, 
133. 

Number of words in a manu- 
script, 113. 



Libraries, books in, 208. 

Linotype, 213. 

Literary agencies or bu- 
reaus, 94. 

Literary career, entering a, 
1. 

Literary schools, 91. 

M 

Magazine writers, the in- 
comes of, 244. 

Manuscript, copyrighting a, 
110. 

Manuscript, how it is re- 
ceived and handled by a 
book publisher, 136. 

Manuscript, how to send, 
120. 

Manuscript, number of 
words in, 113. 

Manuscript paper, 108. 



Paper covered books, 232. 

Paper for manuscripts, 108. 

Picture plays, 84. 

Plating, 215. 

Plays, motion picture, 84. 

Play writing, 58. 

Playwright, 58. 

Poetry, the writing of, 47. 

Preparation of a manu- 
script, 98. 

Price of a book, 182. 

Proof reading, 193. 

Publishers, contracts with, 
149. 

Publishers, disreputable, 163. 

Q 

Questionable publishers, 163. 
Quoting from copyrighted 
matter, 177. 



INDEX 



255 



R 

Reading of proofs, 193. 
Records of manuscripts, 

251. 
Rejected manuscripts, 126. 
Remuneration received by 

the favored few, 247. 
Re-publdcation of books, 

stories, and articles, 210. 
Reputation, selling value of, 

236. 
Revising manuscripts, 115. 



Schools, literary, 91. 
Selling value of reputation, 

236. 
Short stories, syndicating, 

225 
Short story, the writing of, 

20. 
Size of a book, 129. 
Special stories or articles, 

45. 
Stage, 58. 

Stereotyping of books, 215. 
Stories, advance publication 

or re-publication of, 210. 
Stories, detective, 33. 
Stories for children, 35. 
Stories, short, 20. 
Stories, special, 45. 
Stories, syndicating, 225. 



Stories of adventure, 28. 
Stories of humor, 39. 
Stories of mystery, 31. 
Syndicating books, short 
stories, and articles, 225. 



Terms for the publication of 

books, 143. 
Theater, 58. 
Tragedies, 58. 
Typesetting machinesr 213. 

U 

Unreliable publishers* 163. 
V 

Value of experience, 217. 
Value of reputation, 236. 
Vaudeville, 58. 

W 

Words in a manuscript, 113. 
Writers of syndicate matter, 

225. 
Writing a short story, 20. 
Writing fiction and novels, 6. 
Writing, humorous, 39. 
Writing of plays, 58. 
Writing of poetry, 47. 



JUL 19 1913